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ATT BAY 1814 

PT,< lIME petrb 



POLAND, 1 806-1 807. With Maps and 
Plans. Demy 8vo. 


PRUSSIA, 1806. With an Introduction by 
Field-Marshal Earl Roberts, V.C., K.G., 
etc. With Maps, Battle Plans, Portraits and 
16 full-page Illustrations. Demy 8vo. 

CHARLES. With 8 Illustrations and 5 
Sheets of Maps and Plans. Demy 8vo. 

GERMANY, 1813. With 17 Maps and 
Plans. Demy 8vo. 




AT BAY 1814 




• l* 




THIS volume will appear almost precisely- 
one hundred years after the commence- 
ment of the campaign which it de- 
As in the case of the author's four previous 
histories of Napoleon's campaigns, it deals only 
with the purely military side of the war, politics 
being referred to only in so far as they actually 
influenced directly the course of military opera- 
tions. Further, it is confined to the operations 
in which Napoleon was personally and directly 
engaged. Therefore, no attempt is made to deal 
with the campaigns of Soult and Suchet against 
Wellington, with the blockade of Davout in 
Hamburg or of the other fortresses in Germany, 
with Maison's campaign in the Netherlands, with 
Eugene's in Italy, or even with Augereau's 
movements about Lyons. The latter, feeble 
though they were, certainly did exercise a con- 
siderable influence on the allied movements, espe- 
cially in the end of February ; but it was mainly 
unfounded alarm which influenced Schwarzenberg, 
and the details of Augereau's advance and retreat 
are of little interest. 

There appears to be, at present, no modern 
work in English giving anything like a full history 

vi Author's Preface 

of this campaign, except the lectures of Captain 
Jones published in 1868. Being addressed to 
Sandhurst cadets they necessarily do not go into 
much detail. When they were delivered, even 
Napoleon's correspondence was scarcely published 
in full, and none of the many documents which 
have since been disinterred from the various 
record offices of Europe were available. 

In French there are several excellent histories, 
notably the "1814" of the late M. Henry 
Houssaye, and the admirable volumes of Com- 
mandant Weil, which represent the result of years 
of assiduous search in the archives of Paris, St. 
Petersburg, and Vienna. Captain Hulot, of the 
45th Infantry, has also published a useful volume, 
" La Manoeuvre de Laon." In German there are 
contemporary accounts by Muffling and Clause- 
witz, and a translation of Danilewski's Russian 
work, which has also been translated into English. 
Two volumes (by General Janson) of the great 
11 Geschichte der Befreiungskriege, 1813-1815" 
deal with 18 14. That author naturally had freer 
access to German records than Colonel Weil, but, 
save in this respect, little has been added to the 
French work. 

The author has been over the greater part 
of the theatre of war, and, in the case of the 
country between Soissons, Laon, and Berry-au- 
Bac, had the advantage of seeing 10,000 French 
troops of the present day manoeuvring with 
general ideas very similar to those of Napoleon 
of March 7th-c;th, 18 14. The whole thing was 
a vivid object-lesson in the difference between 
the simple training of a few weeks which enabled 
Napoleon to pit his recruits with success against 

Author's Preface vii 

the veterans of the allied armies, and the far 
lengthier and stricter training which alone can 
qualify men to meet the more exacting conditions 
of warfare in the twentieth century. 

The author hopes the maps in the present 
volume will be found sufficient. The general 
map shows all but a very few of the names men- 
tioned in the text. These will be found in the 
maps used for battles and the manoeuvres at and 
south of Laon. These latter are reproductions 
of the French staff map on a scale of 80 q 00 . 
The country in most of these places has changed 
little in general character, and it is only necessary 
to eliminate the railways, and to remember that 
many of the roads now metalled were not so in 
1 8 14. Their general line is unaltered!. 

The author takes this opportunity of grate- 
fully acknowledging the courtesy of the Geo- 
graphical Department of the French General 
Staff in permitting him to reproduce extracts 
from their map. 

The numerous small plans showing troop 
positions on various dates do not pretend to 
accuracy or uniformity of scale, but it is hoped 
that, in conjunction with the general and local 
maps, they will afford a clear view of the general 
situation on almost every important day of this 
short campaign. On them place names are shown, 
as on the general map, in italics, whilst names 
of commanders, or numbers of corps, appear in 
Roman capitals and figures. The use of com- 
manders' names generally has been preferred ; 
for, in Napoleon's army of 18 14, the units were 
often so small as to be likely to give rise to mis- 
apprehension if described as corps, divisions, etc. 

viii Author's Preface 

In all maps the top and bottom are respectively 
north and south, and French troops are shown 
by solid, whilst the allies are represented by 
open rectangles. 

F. L. P. 

31J/ October ; 1913. 



I. From Hanau to Chalons i 

II. Brienne and La Rothiere 17 

III. The Retreat after La Rothiere ... 41 

IV. Champaubert, Montmirail, and Vauchamps . 52 
V. Napoleon returns to the Seine ... 77 

VI. The Second Pursuit of Blucher ... 97 

VII. Craonne 117 

VIII. Laon and Reims 137 

IX. Arcis-sur-Aube 155 

X. The General Advance on Paris . . .177 

XL Concluding Remarks 202 

Index 213 




General Map of the Theatre of War 


(a) Positions, evening 28th January 

(b) Positions, evening 31ST January 

(c) Battlefield of Brienne and La Rothiere 

(d) Battle of La Rothiere — Positions about 2 p.m. 

(e) Battle of La Rothiere — Positions about 8 p.m. 

(f) Positions, evening 6th February 

(g) Positions, evening 9TH February 
(h) Positions, evening iith February 

(i) Battlefields of Champaubert, Montmirail, and Vauchamps 

(j) Positions, evening i6th February 

(k) Battlefield of Montereau 

(1) Positions, evening 24TH February 

(m) Positions, evening 26th February 


(a) Napoleon and Blucher— (i) evening ist March, (2) evening 

5th March 

(b) Napoleon and Blucher— Positions, evening 6th March 

(c) Battlefields of Craonne and Laon 

xii Maps and Plans 

(d) Battle of Craonne — Positions at 3 p.m. 

(e) Positions, evening 7TH March 

(f) Battle of Laon, 10 p.m., 9TH March 

(g) General Positions, evening 17TH March 

(h) Napoleon and Schwarzenberg, evening 19TH March 
(i) Battlefield of Arcis-sur-Aube 
(j) Positions, evening 24TH March 

All Maps and Plans are due north and south. 

French Troops indicated by solid rectangles. 

Allied Troops indicated by hollow rectangles. 

Names of Commanders and numbers of corps, etc., in Roman capitals 
and figures. 




NAPOLEON'S campaigns of 1813 and 
1 8 14 were in reality a continuation of 
that of 181 2 ; but the well-marked 
pauses in the end of 181 2 and begin- 
ning of 1813, and again in the end of 181 3, 
naturally lead to their treatment as three separate 
parts. When Napoleon re-crossed the Rhine, in 
the beginning of November, 181 3, with the 60,000 
or 70,000 soldiers whom alone he had saved from 
the disaster of Leipzig, the allies lost touch of 
him for a considerable period. 

It will be well to describe briefly the general 
military situation of Europe at this time. 
Napoleon, with his field army, had been finally 
driven from Germany ; but he had still in that 
country large garrisons occupying the important 
fortresses which had not been re-taken from him, 
and which were now isolated in the midst of 
hostile forces and a hostile population ; for the 
Emperor had no longer any German ally, and 
the auxiliary forces of Bavaria, Saxony, and the 
other states of the late Rhenish Confederation 
were now being led against him, and recruited by 
fresh levies. Though some of the garrisons left 
behind in Germany had to surrender before the 


2 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

end of the campaign, they accounted for a very- 
large force lost to Napoleon. Nearly 1 00,000 
men were in Dresden, Magdeburg, Glogau, 
Hamburg, Kiistrin and Wittenberg alone. He 
had, moreover, to provide garrisons for the 
fortresses on the Rhine and in Eastern and 
Northern France which would soon be surrounded 
by the rising tide of invasion. Mayence alone 
had a garrison of about 15,000 men. There were 
more fortresses in Belgium and Holland with only 
a small field army which never exceeded about 
15,000 men. 

On the Pyreneean frontier Soult, with about 
60,000 men, faced Wellington, already over the 
frontier, and Suchet, with 37,000, was opposed to 
the Anglo-Spanish forces in the north-east corner 
of Spain. In Italy, the Viceroy had some 50,000 
men against about equal numbers of Austrians 
under Bellegarde. Murat was for the moment on 
the French side with the Neapolitan army, but 
he was already wavering and soon changed 

In the campaign which we are about to describe, 
diplomacy and politics played an unusually im- 
portant part. With all powers, both military and 
political, united in his own hands, there was, in 
Napoleon's case, a constant harmony of operations, 
though he found himself hampered in his military 
movements by the necessity of always covering 
Paris, and of avoiding situations which might give 
rise to alarm in the capital, and thereby offer 
opportunities to the many enemies of his govern- 
ment there. Paris was the heart and centre of his 
power, the storehouse of his military supplies, and 
the headquarters of his army organizations. It 

From Hanau to Chalons 3 

represented France in a way that Moscow did not 
represent Russia in 18 12, or Berlin Prussia in 
1813. At the same time, it was the cauldron in 
which seethed all the forces of revolution and 
discontent, and all the intrigues of the parties 
opposed to the Napoleonic regime. All France, 
and Paris especially, was weary of the Empire and 
of the years of war which it had represented. 
Napoleon knew well that the fall of Paris entailed 
that of the Empire, and Paris was then not a 
fortress capable of making a serious resistance 
whilst the Emperor organized fresh armies south 
of the Loire. 

On the side of the allies, political interests 
were far more complicated, as is always the case 
with allied armies. The interests of the several 
powers were very divergent, and we shall con- 
stantly see their military operations very largely 
ruled by the selfish interests of one or the 

The Tsar personally cherished the idea of an 
occupation of Paris to avenge Napoleon's occupa- 
tion of Moscow in 181 2; but he found himself 
restrained in this by the strong feeling, dating 
from before Kutuzow's death in 181 3, that Russia 
had played her part in driving back the French 
from her own territory with the awful losses of the 
retreat. Many of his statesmen and commanders 
saw no sufficient reason, after that, for fighting 
other people's battles in Central and Western 

Austria, as represented by Metternich and the 
Emperor, was in a different position. After the 
successes gained in Germany in 18 13, it was 
practically certain that any peace that could be 

4 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

concluded with Napoleon would end in the restora- 
tion to her of practically all she had lost in recent 
wars. A continuation of the war, and the over- 
throw of Napoleon, would tend to the increase of 
the power and influence of her old rivals Russia 
and Prussia, which she could not regard with 
satisfaction, especially as Russia was understood 
to have views as to the disposition of Poland 
which suited neither Austria nor Prussia. Some 
weight, not too much, may also be given to the 
Austrian Emperor's unwillingness to assist in the 
complete overthrow of his daughter's husband 

The King of Prussia, a devoted adherent of 
the Tsar, was generally ready to follow his lead. 
On the other hand, the feeling of his subjects, and 
of many of his statesmen and generals, was one of 
intense bitterness against the man who had 
oppressed them for seven years, and of burning 
desire for revenge against him and his army. 

England, weary of protracted war, and of play- 
ing paymaster to the Powers of the various coali- 
tions, was ready to welcome peace, provided there 
were reasonable guarantees for its permanence. 
The ever-intriguing Bernadotte was another 
source of trouble ; for he had wild visions of him- 
self as the successor of Napoleon, by election of 
the French people. It is supposed to have been 
at his instigation that the allies proclaimed that 
Napoleon, not the French people, was the enemy. 

With such divergent views prevailing at head- 
quarters of the allies it was obvious that com- 
promise must be the order of the day, unless there 
was to be a break-up of the coalition. 

When we come to the military leaders, we find 

From Hanau to Chalons 5 

on the one side Napoleon served as subordinates 
by marshals who, however excellent as corps 
commanders, were none of them fit for semi- 
independent command, and moreover, were as 
tired of war, for the most part, as was the rest of 
France. They had been liberally endowed by 
their master, and were now only anxious to enjoy 
their wealth and honours in peace. 

On the side of the allies, the commander-in- 
chief, Prince Schwarzenberg, by nature a states- 
man and diplomatist rather than a general, was 
terribly lacking in enterprise, tormented by a 
constant fear of attacks on his lines of communica- 
tion, and intolerably slow in moving. On the 
other hand, some excuse may be found for him in 
the difficulties of his position as the servant of 
many masters. He owed allegiance primarily to 
his own sovereign the Austrian Emperor and his 
adviser Metternich, neither of whom favoured 
bold measures or a vigorous attempt finally to 
overthrow Napoleon. The Tsar, who had 
arrogated to himself the principal position among 
the three sovereigns, and was fond of interfering 
in military matters, constantly urged Schwarzen- 
berg forward, and even at times passed orders on 
his own account. The King of Prussia generally 
followed Alexander. 

The commander-in-chief of the army of Silesia, 
the veteran Bliicher, was the very reverse of 
Schwarzenberg. He hated Napoleon with a 
bitter hatred ; nothing would satisfy him but the 
Emperor's early and complete downfall. He was 
all for an immediate advance on Paris, which was 
not at all what Schwarzenberg or Metternich or 
the Emperor Francis desired. Yet Bliicher was 

6 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

never insubordinate, though it must be admitted 
that he advocated and rejoiced in separation of 
the armies as giving him a freer hand. No one 
has ever accused Blucher of being a heaven-born 
genius, but he was full of common sense and did 
not hesitate to rely for brainwork on his more 
talented subordinate Gneisenau. If Gneisenau 
supplied the brains, it was Blucher who supplied 
the relentless energy, the fierce patriotism, and 
the strong will which pushed his army forward 
and kept peace between Russians and Prussians, 
and even between Prussians and Prussians in the 
campaign about Laon. When Blucher, broken 
down by fever and ophthalmia at Laon, was com- 
pelled to delegate his command temporarily to 
Gneisenau, the results were immediately apparent 
in Gneisenau's cancellation of the orders for an 
immediate pursuit of the defeated French, and in 
the inactivity of the Silesian army during the days 
on which Blucher was incapacitated. Blucher 
undoubtedly was the hero of the campaign on the 
allied side. But for his energy, it might well have 
had a different end. 

Arrived at Frankfort-on-the-Main, the allies 
settled down to lengthy deliberations and councils 
of war. Blucher was all for an immediate con- 
tinuation of the pursuit of the defeated French 
army of Leipzig, right up to the gates of Paris. 
On the 3rd November he wrote through Gneise- 
nau to Knesebeck : * " We can now take stock 

* Knesebeck was the principal military adviser of the King of 
Prussia. He was thoroughly imbued with the antiquated prin- 
ciples of 1 8th century war, was all for manoeuvring, and seemed to 
consider a great battle the last resort of a desperate leader, rather 
than as the primary objective to be aimed at. 

From Hanau to Chalons 7 

of the position of Napoleon. If we move rapidly 
on Holland and cross the Rhine, the conquest of 
Holland will be an accomplished fact in less than 
two months, and we shall sign a durable peace. 
If, on the contrary, we remain on the right bank, 
if we allow ourselves to be delayed by negotia- 
tions, we shall have to engage, in 18 14, in a 
severe and bloody campaign." The writer saw 
as clearly as did Napoleon himself that the one 
thing absolutely necessary to the latter was time 
to reorganize and recruit his army. A fortnight 
later Napoleon himself expressed the same idea 
in a letter to Marmont. " We are not, at present, 
ready for anything. In the first fortnight of 
January we shall be already prepared for much."""' 
Had Bliicher's general idea been followed, the 
Empire of Napoleon would probably have fallen 
before the end of December. 

Clausewitz, in his critical essay on the cam- 
paign, has shown that the allies might well have 
advanced, after a week's rest on the Rhine, with 
245,000 men, even after detaching 40,000 men with 
Bernadotte against Davout in Hamburg. Clause- 
witz calculates that of the 245,000 a force of 
65,000 would have sufficed to mask the eastern 
fortresses. Deducting another 30,000 for losses 
in action, by disease, etc., at least ] 50,000 allies 
could have arrived before Paris. Napoleon's 
60,000 or 70,000 would have dwindled by a 
number at least as great as the reinforcements he 
could have gathered in the meanwhile, and, more- 
over, they would have reached Paris thoroughly 
demoralized by a continuous retreat of nearly 500 
miles after the great defeat of Leipzig. The 

* Corr. 20,921. 

8 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

result of a decisive battle east of Paris, under such 
circumstances, could hardly be doubtful. 

But an immediate advance was not to be 
expected under the political conditions prevailing 
at the allied headquarters. On the 9th November 
commenced a series of councils of war, of plans 
of campaign, and of tentative negotiations with 
Napoleon. The allies still offered terms of peace 
which would have left France with her "natural" 
frontiers, the Pyrenees, the Alps and the Rhine, 
though there was to be no longer any French 
suzerainty or predominating influence beyond 
them. This offer, conveyed through St. Aignan, 
a French diplomat held as a prisoner of war, gave 
Napoleon what he so urgently needed, an oppor- 
tunity of gaining time. He probably had no 
intention, at this stage of the war, of accepting 
any such terms, though later there came a time 
when the allies' offers were much less favourable, 
and Napoleon claimed in vain the offer of the 
Frankfort terms. For the present, he delayed 
answering till the 1st December, and then made 
impossible proposals for the surrender of the 
iortresses on the Vistula and the Oder, on condi- 
tion that their garrisons were sent back to him so 
that he could add them to his field army. He 
did promise to appoint Caulaincourt as his pleni- 
potentiary to meet the agents of the allies, a 
promise which led to the assembling of the 
Congress of Chatillon in February 1814. 

As regards the plan of campaign of the allies, 
there was never any chance of their adopting 
Bluchers energetic ideas. Various schemes, 
submitted by Knesebeck, Radetzky, and the 
Tsar himself, were discussed and rejected. 

From Hanau to Chalons 9 

The scheme finally accepted laid down the 
following general movements : 

(1) The main army (Army of Bohemia) to 
cross the Upper Rhine about Basle and even 
higher up, sending 12,000 men under Bubna to 
secure Switzerland, thereby giving the Austrians 
a more direct communication with their own 
country. The centre would move on the plateau 
of Langres, to which great importance was 
attached as turning by their sources the Meuse, 
the Marne, and the Seine ; a truly 18th century 

(2) Blucher with the Army of Silesia would, 
at the same time, cross the Middle Rhine 
between Mayence and Coblence. His function 
was to manoeuvre so as to hold the enemy until 
Schwarzenberg could reach his communications. 

(3) Of the North Army the corps of Biilow 
and Winzingerode were to subdue Holland, 
whilst Bernadotte with the rest, reinforced by 
part of the Russian-Polish army of Bennigsen, 
dealt with Davout at Hamburg, and with the 

The general principles of action of the 
divided armies were laid down in a memorandum 
of the 13th November by Schwarzenberg. It is 
understood to represent the scheme arrived at 
during the armistice of 18 13. They were briefly : 

(1) Fortresses encountered to be masked, not 

(2) The main army to operate on the enemy's 
flank and communications. 

(3) The enemy to be forced, by attacks on his 
communications, either to detach, or to hurry the 
bulk of his forces on the threatened points. 

io Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

(4) He was only to be attacked when divided 
and very inferior in numbers. 

(5) If the enemy advanced in mass against 
one of the allied armies, it would retire whilst the 
other advanced. 

(6) The point of union of all allied forces to 
be the enemy's headquarters. 

The Bohemian army crossed the Rhine on 
the 20th December, 18 13, Bliicher on the 1st 
January, 18 14, Winzingerode five days later. 

Into the details of invasion we do not propose 
to enter until the end of January, when Napoleon 
again appears upon the scene. He had disposed 
his feeble forces in an immense " cordon " facing 
the Rhine. This very disposition clearly in- 
dicated that he had no intention of making a 
serious defence. All that this show of defence 
could do was to prevent the enemy occupying 
with light troops an area abandoned by the 
French. The allied advance to the Marne was 
therefore only a promenade militaire, though 
probably the marshals, in Napoleon's absence, 
might well have done more than they did to 
delay the enemy. They fell back as the allies 
advanced without any serious attempt at resist- 
ance, or even at delaying them by manoeuvring. 

When he got back to Paris early in 
November, 18 13, Napoleon was busy trying to 
raise a new army. Between the 9th October, 
1813, and the 6th January, 18 14, no less than 
936,000 new levies of regular troops and National 
Guards were ordered, including drafts on all 
the years back to 1802, and forward to 18 15. 
But, for various reasons, some of these levies 
were postponed ; for some there were no arms 

From Hanau to Chalons 1 1 

available, and some were resisted or evaded. 
Houssaye calculates that not more than one-third 
were actually called up, and not more than one- 
eighth ever fought. 

The Emperor might draw trained soldiers 
from the armies of Italy and of Spain, but he 
never could make up his mind, as his 
soldier's instinct bade him, to abandon the 
secondary objective in Italy. As for Spain, he 
endeavoured, too late, by restoring Ferdinand 
VII. to his throne, to conclude a peace which 
should result in the withdrawal from the war of 
the English and Spanish armies, and the return 
to him of his veterans under Soult and Suchet. 
The bottom was knocked out of his scheme by 
the refusal of the Spanish Cortes to ratify the 
treaty of Valen^ay, signed by Ferdinand whilst 
still a prisoner. Napoleon had to be satisfied 
with the withdrawal of part of Soult's and 
Suchet's veterans,* and their replacement by new 
levies. These-troops were, with the exception of 
the Old Guard, the best he had. 

From Italy he withdrew nothing, and 
presently the Viceroy was opposed, not only by 
Bellegarde's Austrians, but also by the Neapolitan 
army when Murat abandoned his brother-in-law. 
In the Netherlands, Maison's 15,000 men were 
handicapped by a general uprising induced by 
Blilow's advance. The Emperor had nothing left 
but the resources of France. There, unpopular 
though he now was outside the army, he was 

* He withdrew altogether from Soult, to his own army, 11,015 
infantry, 3420 cavalry and 40 guns. From Suchet were taken, 
for Augereau's army of the Rhine, 8051 infantry, 2132 cavalry, 
and 18 guns. 

12 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

able to do much in raising a general insurrection 
in the provinces occupied by the allies. They 
played into his hands here ; for undoubtedly 
many atrocities (not perhaps worse than those of 
the French in Germany) were committed by the 
Cossacks and others. Though peasant risings 
caused much annoyance to the allies, and neces- 
sitated the strong guarding of convoys, it hardly 
seems that they had any serious influence on the 
result. They certainly added greatly to the 
savagery of the campaign on both sides. Into 
details of Napoleon's efforts to raise a new army 
we do not propose to enter at length.* 

As for the allies, owing to the addition to 
their forces of those of the Rhenish Confedera- 
tion, reinforcements were constantly coming in, 
and were sometimes sent to the front, sometimes 
employed in the task of blockading the fortresses, 
thus setting free the better trained troops at first 
so employed. Plotho calculates that the allies 
put into the field in 18 14, one way or another, 
652,000 men in first line and 235,000 in reserve ; 
887,000 in all. Of these 230,000 were Austrians ; 
278,000 Russians; 162,000 Prussians; 197,000 
other Germans ; and 20,000 Swedes, f 

The " cordon " which the Emperor left facing 
the Rhine in November was generally disposed 
thus : 

Victor, with about 1 0,000 men, watched the 
Upper Rhine from Hiinningen to Landau. 

* For a most graphic account of the difficulties in raising men 
and arms, and of the details of guerilla warfare, see Houssaye, 
"1814", Chap. I. 

t The Austrians in Italy are included, but not the forces of 


From Hanau to Chalons 13 

Marmont had about 13,000 between Landau 
and Coblence. 

Sebastiani, with 4500, watched from Coblence 
to the Lippe. 

Macdonald, on his left, had 11,500 for the 
space from the Lippe to Nimeguen. 

On the extreme left were Maison's 15,000 
in the Netherlands, on the extreme right were 
1600 men at Lyons, the nucleus of a corps 
entrusted to Augereau. 

Morand was blockaded with 15,000 in 

The only reserves behind the centre of this 
immense line were, at first, the Old Guard under 
Michel ; two divisions of Young Guard forming 
under Ney at Metz, under the high-sounding 
title of the " Army of the Vosges " ; and a few 
battalions under Mortier. 

On the 1 2th January Napoleon dictated a 
long note * on the actual situation of France. 
With the usual optimism of these latter days, he 
proceeds to estimate that Schwarzenberg with 
50,000 men, and Bliicher with 30,000, were all 
that could arrive before Paris by the middle of 
February, when he would have 120,000 men in 
the field to oppose them, besides a garrison of 
30,000 in the capital. At this time, he seems to 
have contemplated awaiting the arrival of the 
enemy before Paris. He was determined "never 
to make any preparation for abandoning Paris, 
and to bury himself, if necessary, in its ruins." 
He had previously said that he intended to make 
of Paris a strong place which he would never 
quit.f He did not believe in the enemy's marching 

* Corr. 21,089. t Corr. 21,084 of nth January. 

14 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

on Paris. He would certainly have been justified 
in the belief if his gross under-estimate of the 
allied forces available had been nearly correct. 
Sometime during the next few days he was dis- 
illusioned, and resolved on a very different plan : 
an attempt to prevent the junction of Blticher 
and Schwarzenberg towards Chalons, and to defeat 
them separately. 

The theatre of war with which we are mainly 
concerned is enclosed by a line running north- 
east from Paris to Laon, thence through Reims, 
Chalons-sur-Marne, St. Dizier, Chaumont, 
Chatillon-sur-Seine, Sens, and Fontainebleau back 
to Paris. It may be described generally as a 
plain except in the portion north of the river 
Aisne, where there are hills rising some 400 feet 
above the river levels. This area will be more 
fully described later on. The country between 
the Marne on the north and east and a line 
running roughly through Villenauxe, Sezanne, 
and Etoges is almost a dead level, scantily popu- 
lated and with a heavy, clayey, marshy soil. The 
tract west of this line lies on a higher level and 
is much superior in fertility and population. It 
is also much more undulating with quite deep 
valleys in places. 

The Seine and the Marne are the two 
principal rivers in the theatre. Always serious 
military obstacles, rarely fordable in winter even 
in their upper reaches, they flow more or less 
parallel to one another on the arc of a circle 
convex towards the south-west until they begin to 
converge to unite just outside Paris. 

The Aube is the most important tributary 
joining the Seine on its right bank. 1 1 is generally 

From Hanau to Chalons 15 

unfordable within the theatre, except in very 
dry weather. The Seine receives a considerable 
tributary, the Yonne, on its left bank, and a 
smaller one, the Loing. The most important 
tributaries of the Marne from our point of view 
are the Grand and Petit Morin on the left bank, 
and the Ourcq on the right. The two former are 
petty streams, but their marshy beds give them 
some importance as military obstacles, a remark 
which applies with still greater force to the larger 

The Aisne, flowing from east to west through 
Berry-au-Bac and Soissons, is a much more im- 
portant stream, generally unfordable. Its tributary 
the Vesle, flowing through Reims and thence to its 
left bank above Soissons, is a small stream of 
secondary importance. The Lette, or Ailette, 
which flows parallel to and north of the Aisne, 
will be referred to later. Both it and the Aisne 
are tributaries of the Oise. 

Three great roads led across the theatre to 

(1) From Chalons-sur-Marne along the left 
bank of the Marne to Chateau-Thierry where it 
crossed to the right. At La Ferte-sous-Jouarre 
it re-crossed to the left bank, and finally again 
went to the right bank at Trilport. 

The chord of the arc made by this road 
between Chalons and La Ferte-sous-Jouarre was 
formed by an inferior road, though still a good one 
as roads then went, from Chalons by Champaubert 
and Montmirail direct to La Ferte, where it joined 
the chaussee. 

(2) From Chaumont across the Aube at Bar- 
sur-Aube, then across the Seine at Troyes At 

1 6 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

Nogent-sur-Seine it again crossed to the right 
bank of the Seine, finally crossing the Marne 
close to Paris. 

(3) From Auxerre by the right bank of the 
Yonne to Sens, where it crossed to the left bank, 
passing again to the right bank of the Seine at 
Montereau, and joining (2) at the crossing of the 
Marne outside Paris. 

There were many other roads of fair quality 
for the times, running both east and west, and 
north and south. 

The " chauss^es " and other roads had to pass 
many times across the Seine, Marne, and other 
streams, and we shall find the bridges frequently 
destroyed and repaired, often in the course of a 
few days, by each side alternately. The facility 
or difficulty of restoration often exercised an 
important influence on the course of operations. 



NAPOLEON, leaving Joseph in charge 
of Paris, of the Empress, and of the 
King of Rome, reached Chalons early 
on the 26th January, 18 14. He had 
been preceded there by Lefebvre-Desnoettes at 
the head of 1700 Guard cavalry. The troops 
available for immediate operations were : 

Victor with the II corps and Milhaud with the \ 
5th cavalry corps between Vitry and St. Dizier from I 14,747* 
which their advanced guard had been driven on the j 
25th. ) 

Marmont with the VI corps and Doumerc's 1st \ 
cavalry corps. He had only Lagrange's infantry at I 12,051 
Vitry le Brule and the cavalry. Ricard's division [ 
was on the march from St. Menehould to Vitry. j 

Ney with three divisions of Young Guard ] 
(Meunier's, Decouz's, and Rottembourg's) and | 14,505 
Lefebvre-Desnoettes' cavalry at Chalons and Vitry. j 

Total 4i,3°3 

On the left, but out of reach for the present, were 
Macdonald and Sebastiani marching from Mezieres 
to St. Menehould. After detaching garrisons, 

* It must be remembered throughout this campaign that the 
terms " corps," " division," etc., on the French side do not necessarily 
represent anything like the numbers they did in former campaigns. 
A corps was sometimes a force only equal to one of the old brigades 
whilst a division sometimes only represented the strength of one or 
two battalions. 

1 8 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

etc., they had not more than 10,000 or 11,000 
men between them. 

Mortier, who had about 20,000 men, of whom 
12,000 were of the Guard, had fallen back on 
Troyes after an indecisive action with part of 
Schwarzenberg's army at Bar-sur-Aube. Of his 
force, Dufour's division of the Reserve of Paris 
was at Arcis-sur-Aube whither it had marched on 
the 25th by Lesmont, the bridge at which place 
Dufour had been unable to destroy as he passed. 
He was on the way to join Napoleon. Far away 
on the right was Allix with 2800 men towards 
Sens and Auxerre. 

Napoleon had intended taking the offensive 
on the 26th, believing Victor to be at least as far 
forward as St. Dizier, and Dufour at Brienne. 
In the circumstances, he proposed to attack 
Bliicher, whom he now believed to be at St. 
Dizier, on the 27th, before he could join Schwar- 
zenberg's advanced corps. There was a trifling 
action at St. Dizier on the 27th, from which 
Napoleon learned that he was too late, and that 
Bliicher was gone for Brienne, where he was due 
on the 28th. The Prussian commander would 
there be in touch with Schwarzenberg's troops at 
Bar-sur-Aube, but there might still be time to 
drive him against the Aube at Brienne and inflict 
a severe blow on him before he could be strongly 
supported. Napoleon also knew that he had 
broken in between Bliicher and Yorck, who had 
been at Pont-a-Mousson on the morning of the 
26th, where he received an order to rejoin 
Bliicher at once.* 

* Yorck had been relieved in the blockade of Metz by a force, 
under Borosdin, detached by Langeron from before Mayence. 

Brienne and La Rothiere 19 

Mortier had been ordered to join Napoleon 
by Dienville and Brienne, but, on the 27th, the 
Emperor, hearing of his retreat on Troyes, 
ordered him to Arcis, provided that movement 
would not endanger Troyes. Despatches to the 
same effect sent by Berthier to Mortier, to Bor- 
dessoulle,* and to Colbert at Nogent, were inter- 
cepted by cossacks, and from them Bliicher 
ascertained, though only on the morning of the 
29th, that he had Napoleon descending on his 
rear with 30,000 or 40,000 men, between himself 
and Yorck. So late as the morning of the 28th, 
Bliicher had written of the affair at St. Dizier 
that the enemy with only badly organized troops 
could do nothing against the allied lines of com- 
munication, and, " if he tries it, nevertheless, 
nothing more desirable can happen for us ; then 
we shall get Paris without a blow."f 

The Emperor ordered the advance on Brienne 
in three columns. 

Right — Gerard with Dufour's and Ricard's J 
divisions, and Piquet's cavalry direct on 
Brienne from Vitry ; 
Centre — the Guard by Eclaron on Montier- 

en-Der ; 
Left — Victor and Milhaud up the left bank of 
the Marne to Rochecourt, whence they 
would turn through Vassy to Montier- 
Marmont was left behind with Lagrange's 
division and the 1st cavalry corps, having a rear- 
guard at Bar-le-Duc, to keep back Yorck. 

The roads were in a fearful condition owing 

* At Arcis with iooo cavalry. t Janson, I. 155. 

t Of Marmont's (VI) corps. 

20 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

to the thaw which had set in. Nevertheless, 
Napoleon's troops managed to get over them, so 
that by evening on the 28th Gerard was with 
Dufour's division at Braux-le-Comte, Ricard's 
behind, and Piquet's cavalry making for Montier- 
en-Der, which it reached early on the 29th. * 

The centre and left were with Napoleon at 
Montier-en-Der and Vassy. During this day 
Marmont's rearguard evacuated Bar-le-Duc, 
which was occupied by Yorck. 

Marmont, leaving 800 infantry and 400 
cavalry at St Dizier under Lagrange, to protect 
his rear against Yorck, marched off with the rest 
for Eclaron. 

Of the enemy Bliicher, reaching Brienne, had 
kept Olsufiew's corps there and had sent Sacken's 
across the Lesmont bridge, by the left bank of 
the Aube on the road to Arcis-sur-Aube. In 
that position Sacken received orders from 
Bliicher, who had now heard of the fight at St. 
Dizier on the 27th, directing him to concentrate 
on Pougy and Lesmont. His cavalry was at 
Ramerupt and Piney. 

Wittgenstein with the VI corps of the 
Bohemian army, was at Haudelincourt on the 
Ornain, on his march from Toul to Joinville. 
His advanced guard, under Pahlen, had, however, 
got so far forward as to be with Bliicher at 
Brienne. Lanskoi, retreating from St. Dizier on 
the 27th, had got to Doulevant and Dommartin. 

Schwarzenberg's headquarters were at Chau- 

mont ; Wrede with the V corps was about ten 

miles out on the road from Chaumont to St. 

Dizier ; the Crown Prince of Wiirtemberg (IV 

* Map II (a). 

Brienne and La Rothikre 21 

corps) was at Bar-sur-Aube ; Gyulai with the III 
corps between Bar and Vendoeuvre ; Colloredo 
(I corps) was on the march from Chatillon 
towards Sens, and Platow's cossacks at Auxon.* 
Barclay with the Reserves was on the road from 
Langres to Chaumont. 

On the 29th Napoleon's advance continued in 
two columns. At this time he was under two 
misapprehensions; (1) he believed Dufour had 
destroyed the Lesmont bridge, and (2) being 
ignorant of the interception of Berthier's despatch 
to Mortier, he believed that the orders would 
result in the arrival of Mortier, Bordessoulle, and 

He was feeling his way, and, until further 
enlightened by reconnaissance, did not feel in a 
position to prescribe further. For the present 
Bliicher had only the weak corps of Olsufiew f 
(about 6000 men) and Pahlen's advanced guard 
of Wittgenstein's corps (about 3000 sabres). 

Olsufiew was posted by Bliicher in Brienne, 
whilst Pahlen's cavalry was to deploy on the 
plain to the north-east. Lanskoi, with part of 
Sacken's cavalry (about 1600), was opposite the 
southern end of the Bois d'Ajou. J 

When Grouchy debouched from that wood he 
found himself opposed to all this cavalry, and it 
was not till between 2 and 3 p.m. that he 
felt himself sufficiently strong to attack. Pahlen 
then slowly retired through Brienne to take post 
south of it, on the road to Bar-sur-Aube. 

* It will be noticed that the II corps is omitted. It had 
been left behind to support Bubna's operations in Switzerland. 

t Olsufiew commanded two Russian infantry divisions (Udom 
and Karnilev) belonging to Langeron's corps. 

% Map II (c), 

22 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

Grouchy's attack on his rearmost regiments was 
at first successful, but in the end was beaten off 
with the loss of three guns. 

Sacken's infantry had now partly come up, 
and were posted across the road from Brienne to 
Bar-sur-Aube, Olsufiew remaining in Brienne. 

Such was the position when Napoleon, 
arriving on the battlefield, ordered a heavy 
artillery fire on Brienne and Sacken's troops, 
under cover of which Victor deployed with 
Duhesme's division debouching from the wood of 
Ajou. At first, Duhesme succeeded in getting 
into part of Brienne, but was driven out again, 
losing two guns which he had taken from the 
enemy. The Emperor now ordered a general 
attack by the infantry. It was between 5 and 
6 p.m., almost dark, when Ney, delayed by the 
badness of the roads, was ready to join in this 
attack. He advanced with six of Decouz's 
battalions against Brienne by the Maizieres road, 
whilst Duhesme on his left renewed his attack 
from the Bois d'Ajou. 

On the other side, most of Sacken's corps had 
passed through Brienne, though his trains were 
still partly on the road there from Lesmont, 
where the bridge had been destroyed after their 
passage. Pahlen's cavalry was on the allied 
right, whilst the French cavalry was all on the 
opposite wing, north-east of Brienne. 

As the French infantry advanced on Brienne, 
Duhesme's division was charged in left flank by 
the whole of Pahlen's and Lanskoi's cavalry, to 
which Napoleon could oppose none of the same 

Duhesme's men were driven in confusion on 

Brienne and La Rothibre 23 

Decouz's with the loss of eight guns, and only 
the gathering darkness saved a complete disaster. 

Bliicher and Gneisenau, believing the fighting 
to be over for the day, retired to the chateau 
where they narrowly escaped capture by Victor's 
leading brigade under General Chataux, which 
surprised the chateau by an unguarded road. 
Chataux then descended on the town and drove 
Olsufiew's men almost completely from it. 
Again Bliicher and Gneisenau, as well as 
Sacken, narrowly escaped capture. Lefebvre- 
Desnoette's cavalry had also broken into Brienne 
by the Lesmont road. As Sacken's trains were 
still not past Brienne and in great danger of 
capture, Bliicher ordered Sacken to retake the 
town, whilst Olsufiew stormed the chateau. 

Olsufiew completely failed, but Sacken, after 
a desperate house-to-house struggle, had, by 
midnight, driven the French almost completely 
from Brienne, though they still held the chateau. 
Then, at last, the fighting ceased. The day had 
cost each side about 3000 men. On the French 
side Admiral Baste was killed, and Decouz 
mortally wounded. Napoleon, with headquarters 
at Perthes, posted his infantry on either side of 
the Maizieres road. 

Bliicher now ordered a silent retreat from 
Brienne on Bassancourt, covered by the cavalry. 
This was unmolested by the French who only 
re-entered Brienne at 4 a.m. 

The battle of Brienne was scarcely a tactical 
victory for Napoleon ; strategically it was little 
short of a defeat, for he had failed in his attempt 
to destroy Bliicher before he could be supported 
by Schwarzenberg. Bliicher honestly admitted 

24 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

having taken the attack on St. Dizier for a mere 
demonstration.* He only fully realized the 
position when he read Berthier's captured des- 
patch on the morning of the 29th. Perhaps his 
best course then would have been to order Sacken 
up the left bank of the Aube, to destroy the 
bridge at Lesmont, and to make for that at 
Dienville or higher up. Meanwhile, Blucher, 
amusing the enemy with a rearguard action, 
could have retreated on Bar-sur-Aube towards 
Schwarzenberg. That, however, would have 
been a course repugnant to the bold spirit of the 
old Prussian. Perhaps, too, he might apprehend 
danger to Sacken from an attack by Mortier 
before he could pass to the right bank of the 
Aube at Dienville or higher up. Napoleon 
certainly made a grave tactical mistake in 
keeping all his cavalry on the right, whilst 
Bllicher's was all on the opposite wing. There 
was thus no cavalry to protect Duhesme's left as 
he advanced on Brienne. The French attack 
was completely driven back by the success of the 
allied cavalry which Blucher used with great 
wisdom and just at the psychological moment. 

Both Napoleon and Blucher were compelled 
to bring their troops into action piecemeal ; the 
former because, if he was to gain the tactical 
result he hoped for, he was bound to begin early, 
before Blucher could slip away ; Blucher, owing 
to the absence of Sacken at the beginning of the 

Napoleon was unfortunate in just missing the 
capture of Blucher and Gneisenau, who only left 
one side of the courtyard of the chateau as 

* Weil, I. 420. 

Brienne and La Rothibre 25 

French troops entered by the other. It is almost 
impossible to estimate the influence on the whole 
course of the campaign which would have been 
exercised by the capture of these two generals, 
representing as they did almost the whole of the 
energy and determination on the side of the 

Whilst Napoleon was following Blucher to 
Brienne, Yorck, now completely cut from his chief, 
had occupied Bar-le-Duc on the 28th, when it 
was evacuated by Marmont's rearguard. Arriving 
before St. Dizier next day, he found himself in 
communication with Wittgenstein at Joinville. 
The latter, as well as Wrede, had been ordered 
towards Joinville, in order to meet the then 
expected attack on the allied communications. 
Both were there on the 29th, and found that 
Marmont was holding Vassy and Doulevant 
strongly. Wrede's men were too exhausted by 
their march to undertake anything on the 30th. 

When the Crown Prince of WiArtemberg, on 
the 28th, pushed his outposts down the right 
bank of the Aube, he was surprised to find 
Blucher in front of him in that direction. He 
met Blucher personally, and it was arranged 
between them that the Wurtemberg corps (IV) 
should remain in support of Blucher so long as 
he was on this part of the Aube. 

Schwarzenberg was equally surprised to find 
Blucher where he was, and highly disapproved 
his having abandoned the great road through 
Chalons to Nancy from which he feared Napoleon 
might operate against his communications. He 
had no idea of following the bold plan of a 
decisive advance on Paris, which Blucher still 

26 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

advocated. He accordingly ordered the IV corps 
and the III (Gyulai) merely to be prepared to 
rescue and support Blucher if he should be in 
difficulties. Gyulai at this time was at Vend- 
ceuvre, with advanced guards watching Mortier 
towards Troyes. At the same time, the Russo- 
Prussian reserves were slowly following the III and 
IV corps from Langres, and Colloredo, with the 
I corps, was under orders to hold Bar-sur-Seine 
against a French movement from Troyes on 
Dijon, aiming at Schwarzenberg's communications 
in that direction. The commander-in-chief was 
much alarmed at the prospect of such a move- 
ment which, however, he seems to have had no 
sufficient reason to expect. 

There had been trouble with Platow, who 
was unaccountably inert and was only induced on 
the 27th to get off the line of the advance on 
Troyes and to move on Sens, whence, on the 
29th, he failed to drive 500 or 600 French. The 
allies held one of their numerous councils of war 
at Chaumont on the 29th January, and at it it 
was decided to inform Caulaincourt, Napoleon's 
plenipotentiary, that the congress for the discus- 
sion of terms of peace was proposed for assembly 
at Chatillon on the 3rd February. On the 
military side it was decided 

(1) The III and IV corps to concentrate at 

(2) The right wing (V and VI corps) at 
Joinville, ready to attack Vassy on the 31st 

(3) Colloredo with the left (I corps) to move 
from Bar-sur-Seine on Vendceuvre, where he 
would replace Gyulai by the 31st at latest. 

Brienne and La Rothifere 27 

Thence he would threaten the French right and 
rear and be in a position to stop any attempt by 
Mortier to advance from Troyes. 

(4) Yorck and Kleist to be ordered to hurry 
forward towards the army of Bohemia. 

On the morning of the 30th Bliicher had retired 
on the neighbourhood of Trannes and Eclance, 
where he appeared to intend holding fast. On 
that day Yorck occupied St. Dizier, now evacuated 
by Lagrange, whose march to Montier-en-Der was 
somewhat harassed by Yorck s cavalry, and who 
might have been seriously compromised had 
Wittgenstein co-operated from Joinville with the 
Prussians. There was little or no co-operation 
between the allied commanders, and it was only 
a matter of chance when they knew anything 
about one another's movements. 

Bluchers position at Trannes was unaltered 
on the 31st January.* The IV corps was on his 
right rear between Maisons and Fresnay ; Gyulai 
was about Bassancourt, with outposts towards 
Vendceuvre. The reserves were echeloned from 
Bar-sur- Aube to some distance towards Chaumont. 
Wrede, with his infantry at Doulevant and on the 
road to Soulaines, had cavalry nearly up to 
Sommevoire and at Soulaines. Wittgenstein 
was at Montier-en-Der, with cavalry as far 
forward as Chavanges. Yorck was approaching 
Vitry from St. Dizier. 

Napoleon's movements on the 30th and 31st 
were not many. Mortier moved a large part of 
his force from Troyes to Arcis-sur-Aube, but 
brought it back on the 31st. Macdonald was at 
Chalons. Marmont moved from Vassy on 
* Map II (b). 

28 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

Montier-en-Der. Thence, instead of making 
direct for Brienne, he made for Soulaines, 
apparently with a view to using a better, though 
longer road. Meanwhile, at 1 p.m. on the 31st, 
the Emperor had sent him orders to march for 
Lesmont (leaving a rearguard at Maizieres), to 
complete the restoration of the bridge, and to 
send an advanced guard across the Aube to Piney. 
As, however, Marmont received these orders at 
Soulaines, he naturally could not execute them, 
and the Emperor appears to have expected 
that, having reached Soulaines, he would hold it. 
In the evening, however, the Duke of Ragusa 
was alarmed by the appearance of Pahlen, who 
was carrying out his orders to rejoin Wittgenstein. 
Though he showed no signs of any intention to 
attack, Marmont thought it necessary to fall back 
to Morvilliers where he arrived, after a fatiguing 
night march, at 1 a.m. on the 1st February. 
The consequence of this move was that the direct 
road to Brienne through the Soulaines forest was 
left open to Wrede. Wittgenstein's cavalry 
surprised and cut up the rearguard left by 
Marmont at Montier-en-Der, driving the remains 
back on Pougy and Lesmont. 

On the 31st January the allies decided to 
attack Napoleon next day. The immediate 
command in the battle was delegated to Blucher, 
perhaps largely with the idea of placating him. 
But he was not given full command of all the 
forces including his reserves. All that were 
under his absolute command were his own two 
corps (Sacken and Olsufiew), the III (Gyulai) 
and the IV (Wiirtemberg). Two divisions of 
Russian cuirassiers and two of grenadiers were to 

Brienne and La Rothiere 29 

replace him at Trannes as he advanced ; one 
division of Russian Guards was to take post at 
Ailleville, one at Fresnay. None of these 
reserves were made over to Bliicher. 

The positions of both Wittgenstein and 
Wrede marked them out for use against 
Napoleon's left and rear ; but Wittgenstein was 
ordered to march away from the battlefield by 
following Yorck to St. Dizier. Wrede was to 
follow Wittgenstein by Montier-en-Der. There 
was really no reason why Yorck, as well as 
these two, should not have been brought down 
on Napoleon's communications with Lesmont. 
He could have contained Macdonald's weak 
corps with a rearguard. Fortunately, a letter 
from Wrede crossed the orders sent to him. 
He said that, as Wittgenstein, at Vassy, was 
practically unopposed, he proposed himself to 
move westwards on Brienne, and suggested the 
use of Wittgenstein also. Schwarzenberg at 
once ignored his own orders and replied that 
Wrede's proposed movement was precisely what 
he desired. He did not, however, modify the 
orders to Wittgenstein. Bliicher was to be 
allowed to "try a battle," but, as Weil concludes, 
the order that the III and IV corps were not to 
go beyond Brienne, and the omission to give 
Bliicher control of his reserves, and of Wrede's 
corps, plainly show that he was not intended to 
be allowed to reap the full fruits of victory. A 
decisive victory was not what was desired by the 
Austrian politicians. 

Barclay de Tolly, commanding the Guards 
and Reserves, took upon himself to modify 
Schwarzenberg's orders by keeping both divisions 

30 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

of the Russian Guard at Ailleville, as well as the 
whole Prussian Guard. They were to move up 
to Trannes by 4 p.m. on the 1st February. 

Wrede had suggested to Bllicher some delay 
in the frontal attack, in order to give him time to 
approach Napoleon's left flank from Soulaines. 

Bluchers command comprised, in round 
numbers : 

(1) The two corps of the Silesian army ... 27,000 

(2) The III corps (Gyulai), less one division left 

to await relief by Colloredo at Vendceuvre 12,000 

(3) IV corps (Wurtemberg) ... 14,000 


Wrede was co-operating with another 26,000, 
and behind Bllicher were 34,000 Guards and 
Reserves of Barclay, of whom only 6000 or 7000 
actually came into action. Altogether the allies 
engaged some 85,000 men and about 200 guns to 
whom Napoleon could only hope to oppose : 

(1) Ge'rard ... ... ... 8,300 

(2) Victor ... ... ... 17,300 

(3) Marmont ... ... ... 8,200 

(4) Ney ... ... ... 11,300 

45,100 with 128 guns. 

If the allies had utilized the whole of the 
Guards and Reserves, as well as Wittgenstein, 
they would have had nearly three times the 
French strength. 

It is almost inconceivable that Napoleon, 
knowing his inferiority, especially in cavalry, 
should have deliberately chosen the southern and 
eastern edges of the plain of Brienne as a 
position for a defensive battle.* As a matter of 
* Map II (c). 

Brienne and La Rothikre 31 

fact, the-dead level open plain was not quite so 
favourable for a superior cavalry as it usually 
was ; for a frost in the night had given a slippery 
coating to the slush of the recent thaw, and the 
plain was covered with snow which had been 
falling during the night, and continued to do so, 
with brief intervals, during the 1st February. 
Napoleon has been much blamed by Clausewitz 
for fighting as he did, but the Prussian critic had 
not, when he wrote, seen Napoleon's orders, 
which show clearly that he did not intend 
fighting at all. His first orders, passed after an 
early reconnaissance, aimed at a retreat to Troyes 
by Lesmont, which was actually commenced by 
the despatch of Ney through Brienne to Lesmont. 
The Emperor was in complete uncertainty as 
to Bluchers movements, and thought it quite 
probable that the allies meant to detain him 
towards Brienne whilst they moved with their 
main force by Vendoeuvre against Mortier's weak 
force at Troyes. It was this idea which induced 
him to decide on retreat. 

About noon, in consequence of reports from 
Victor and Grouchy, he again went out to 
reconnoitre, and was soon convinced that a 
general attack of the allies was about to fall upon 
him, that it was too late to retreat, and that he 
must fight a battle even in his disadvantageous 
position. Ney's retreat was immediately stopped. 
He was already between Brienne and Lesmont 
with two divisions ; only Rottembourg's was 
as far back as Brienne-la-Vieille, and it must 
be some hours before the other two could be 

Napoleon, with his weak force, could do little 

32 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

more than hold the villages on his extended front 
with infantry, and fill the intervening spaces with 

On his right, Dienville, a fair-sized village 
with a bridge over the Aube, was held by 
Gerard's 8000 men who extended part of the way 
to the next village, La Rothiere. Eight squadrons 
of cavalry (Piquet) united the left of Gerard to 
the right of Duhesme (Victor's corps) who had 
one brigade in the small and not very defensible 
village of La Rothiere, on the Brienne-Trannes 
road a mile east of Dienville, and one behind it. 
Two battalions were in each of the villages of 
Petit Mesnil and Chaumesnil, and Victor had, of 
his second division, one battalion in the wood 
of Beaulieu, four battalions on the heights behind 
it, and the rest in the hamlet of La Giberie. 
All these were in the very low hills just outside 
the plain. Grouchy, with Pire's and l'Heritier's 
cavalry, was on the plain between Petit Mesnil 
and Chaumesnil ; N ansouty, with the Guard 
cavalry divisions of Lefebvre-Desnoettes, Colbert, 
and Guyot, on Grouchy's right, between Petit 
Mesnil and La Rothiere. 

On the extreme left was Marmont about 
Morvilliers with Lagrange's division, with a 
battalion in La Chaise on the Soulaines road, and 
Doumerc's cavalry behind it. Leaving out of 
account for the present Ney's reserve of 11,300, 
of which Rottembourg alone was as near as 
Brienne-la-Vieille, Napoleon had less than 34,000 
men spread along a line of some seven miies from 
Dienville to beyond Morvilliers. The space was 
far too great for his strength. 

It was about noon when Sacken's corps began 

Brienne and La Rothiere 33 

to advance from Trannes against La Rothiere, 
with Olsufiew following. The roads were so bad 
that he had to leave half of his 72 guns in 
order to give double teams to the rest. When 
these, in front of the infantry, were within musket 
shot of La Rothiere, they were left deployed 
whilst the teams went back for the rest. Even 
their cavalry escort was not yet up when 
Nansouty's cavalry bore down on them.* It was 
only thanks to the admirable service of the 
Russian guns that Nansouty was stopped by a 
storm of grape. 

Just as Sacken's infantry began to deploy 
there was a temporary cessation of the snow 
which exposed them to the full view and fire of 
the French. 

Again Nansouty charged, carried away 
Lanskoi's cavalry, and was just descending on 
the infantry when he was attacked in front and 
flank by four fresh cavalry regiments and 
completely defeated, with the loss of 24 guns. 
Had Sacken at once advanced, he would 
probably have carried La Rothiere, broken the 
French centre, and hemmed their right against 
the Aube. But Bllicher had not seen this 
cavalry affair on account of the snow, and when 
he heard of it the opportunity was lost. It was 
4 p.m. when Sacken was ready to attack La 
Rothiere. About the same hour Gyulai, who 
had been directed on Dienville, arrived on the 
battlefield. He had sent a whole division across 
the Aube at Unienville as he passed, with orders 
to attack Dienville from the left bank, and he had 

Map II (d). 


34 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

on the right bank only Grummer's brigade and 
Spleny 's.* 

On Sacken's right the IV corps had cleared 
the Beaulieu wood and advanced with some 
difficulty on La Giberie, which was taken but 
lost again to a counter attack by Victor. The 
Crown Prince, thinking his position critical, urged 
Wrede to attack Chaumesnil, and demanded 
reinforcements from Toll, who happened to be 
with him. Toll, without informing Bllicher, 
appears to have ordered both the divisions of 
Russian cuirassiers and one of grenadiers from 

Wrede had been slow in his march, partly 
because Pahlen, on his way to rejoin Wittgen- 
stein, crossed his line, and partly on account of 
difficult roads. He appeared in front of La 
Chaise about 2 p.m. Marmont, endeavouring to 
concentrate to his right, was also hampered by 
bad roads. Shortly before 4 p.m. Wrede's vastly 
superior forces had driven Victor's infantry on 
the Bois d'Ajou, where they were covered by 
Doumerc's cavalry. He had lost at least one 
battery surprised by cossacks. 

When Wrede received the Crown Prince's call 
for help towards Chaumesnil, he attacked that 
place and captured it without much difficulty. 
The loss of this village greatly alarmed Napoleon 
who himself led towards it Guyot's cavalry and 

* There were two generals of this name engaged in the battle 
who must not be confused : (a) Major-General von Spleny 
commanding a brigade of the III corps ; {b) Lieutenant Feld- 
marschall von Spleny commanding an Austrian division of Wrede's 
corps on the extreme right. 

t It will be remembered that they were excluded from Blucher's 

Brienne and La Rothibre 35 

Meunier's Young Guard division. Attack after 
attack was launched but failed to make any 
impression on Wrede's strong position. By 7 p.m. 
the French guns in this quarter were silenced, 
and Wrede's cavalry, penetrating between the 
infantry squares, captured 21 pieces. It was pitch 
dark when Marmont and Meunier fell back 
towards Brienne. Marmont's left brigade at 
Morvilliers had been driven by Spleny behind 
the Bois d'Ajou. 

Wrede's successes greatly lightened the 
Wiirtembergers' task. By 5 p.m. they had again 
taken La Giberie after a fierce struggle, which was 
repeated later at Petit Mesnil VVhen the two 
leading brigades took Petit Mesnil the main 
body had still only got as far as La Giberie, so 
difficult was the road to it. 

Blucher had fixed his eyes on the capture of 
La Rothiere as the centre of Napoleon's line. 
About 4 p.m. Sacken's 16,000 men advanced with 
the bayonet ; for, as so often happened in those 
days of flint locks, the primings had been 
damped by the snow and the muskets would not 
go off. Duhesme, with only some 4000 men, 
was driven out towards Petit Mesnil, though the 
French fought desperately. Even then a hand- 
ful of veterans barricaded themselves in the 
northern houses and held them against all 
Sacken's efforts. Nor could Sacken's men 
debouch from La Rothiere. As they tried to do 
so they were charged by Colbert's cavalry and 
forced to fall back on Olsufiew's corps behind 
them. Blucher now sent for the cuirassiers and 
grenadiers from Trannes. But both divisions 
of cuirassiers and one of grenadiers had been 

36 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

taken by Toll to help the IV corps, and they 
marched and counter-marched without ever doing 
any fighting. The other grenadier division at 
last reached La Rothiere. Blucher had also 
called up Grummer's brigade, from in front of 
Dienville, to aid at La Rothiere. 

Thus Gyulai, when ordered at 5 p.m. to attack 
Dienville, could only do so with artillery on the 
right bank ; for he had no infantry but Spleny's 
four battalions. His division on the left bank 
did, indeed, for a moment, get possession of the 
bridge but was promptly driven back. It was 
only at midnight, when the French had evacuated 
it, that Gyulai occupied Dienville. 

Napoleon, witnessing the advance of Wrede, 
saw that the battle was lost, and that he could do 
no more than cover the retreat on Lesmont. 
Ordering Grouchy to use his cavalry to support 
Victor against the IV corps, and Nansouty to 
hold firm behind La Rothiere, he sent Oudinot 
with Rottembourg's division to retake that 
village. As night fell the leading brigade retook 
La Rothiere in face of a terrible fire, but then, 
meeting Olsufiew's men, was again driven out. 
Oudinot with the 2nd brigade once more stormed 
the village, beyond which they met the Russian 
grenadiers from Trannes and Grummer's brigade 
from Gyulai's corps. By these fresh troops 
Rottembourg's exhausted men were finally driven 
out, though they reformed 500 paces north of La 
Rothiere. It was 8 p.m., pitch dark except 
where the scene was lighted by the burning 
village. The cavalry of Wrede and Wlirtem- 
berg had just had to desist from a final charge 
on Victor and Marmont, because they found 

Brienne and La Rothifere 37 

themselves charging one another in the darkness. 
Napoleon now set Drouot with all available guns 
to check the enemy's advance from La Rothiere.* 
By 9 p.m., when it was snowing harder than ever, 
the pursuit ceased. 

In this sanguinary battle Napoleon lost some 
6000 men, including 2000 prisoners, and 50 or 60 
guns. The allies lost about the same number of 
men. The brunt was borne by Sacken who lost 
about 4000. 

The allies had undoubtedly gained a notable 
victory over the man whom even Leipzig had not 
altogether robbed of his reputation for invinci- 
bility, and they were proportionately elated. 
The victory might well have been decisive of the 
whole campaign but for the orders which crippled 
Blucher, by leaving him without full control of 
the numerous reserves which might have been 
brought up from Trannes and Ailleville, and 
moreover sent Wittgenstein directly away from 
the battlefield, instead of bringing him down on 
Napoleon's rear. As we have said, a really 
decisive victory was not part of the Austrian 
programme at any rate. With the orders for the 
III and IV corps not to proceed beyond Brienne 
in case of success, there was clearly little chance 
of Bliicher's being able to make his success as 
complete as it might have been. 

As for the conduct of the battle, Bliicher con- 
fined his attention mainly to his centre and left at 
La Rothiere and Dienville. Against the former 
he sent 22,000 men, followed eventually by one 
Russian grenadier division and Grummer's 
brigade. Had he had the other grenadier 
• Map II (e), 

38 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

division, and still better the two divisions of 
cuirassiers, he might have been able to drive 
Napoleon's centre back on Brienne and cut off 
Gerard in Dienville. But these troops had been 
ordered, without his knowledge, to support 
Wiirtemberg, who did not really want them, as he 
was relieved by Wrede's attack on Chaumesnil. 
In the end, these three divisions wandered about 
and did nothing. For this Blucher was in no 
way responsible. But he made a mistake in 
pressing the attack on La Rothiere with such 
obstinacy. Once Wrede was on the field, the 
French left was the place on which to concentrate 
the greatest efforts. Gyulai's despatch of a 
division to the left bank of the Aube appears to 
have been his own idea. When he was still 
further weakened on the right bank by having to 
detach Grummer, he had nothing left with which 
to attack Dienville in front. There was little 
chance of success for the attack from the left 
bank by the single bridge, which might quite 
possibly have been destroyed by Gerard ; for, 
under the circumstances, Napoleon was not in 
the least likely to want it for retreat. 

Much, if not most, of the credit for the victory 
is due to Wrede's successful resistance of Schwar- 
zenberg's order to him to follow Wittgenstein. 
Had Schwarzenberg accepted Wrede's proposal 
to use Wittgenstein also against Napoleon's 
communications with Lesmont, the Emperor 
would probably have been compelled to retreat 
over the single bridge between Brienne and 
Radonvilliers. On the French side, as we have 
already shown, Napoleon probably intended to 
retreat on Lesmont, but found himself too late to 

Brienne and La Rothikre 39 

avoid a battle. His inaction about Brienne on 
the 30th and 31st January, when he did nothing 
beyond some cavalry reconnaissances, requires 
explanation. As has been argued by Commandant 
Weil, he probably wished to avoid retreat till the 
last moment on account of the effects which such 
a retreat might have on opinion in Paris. At 
Brienne he was in a central position, whence 
he could move in any direction according to 
circumstances. He had already passed orders 
sending Gerard to reinforce Mortier at Troyes, 
and calculated that that marshal would then have 
27,000 men.* He had also approved Berthier's 
proposal to send army headquarters to Arcis-sur- 
Aube.f All this points to an intention to retire 
from Brienne. Where the Emperor failed was in 
holding on just too long. 

The French fought splendidly at La Rothiere, 
especially Rottembourg's 5000 men in the evening. 
Nansouty's attack on the Russian guns before the 
village earlier in the day should have been a great 
success but for the admirable service of the 
gunners. The Russian artillery was the best the 
allies had, and it was a point of honour with them 
not to lose a gun. Nansouty was again unfortu- 
nate in his attack on Lanskoi's cavalry. 

Of allied corps not on the field of battle, Witt- 
genstein reached St. Dizier. Yorck was in front 
of Vitry, which was not open to a coup de main. 
He there learnt that Macdonald was at Chalons, 
about to march on Vitry. Colloredo only reached 
Vendceuvre in the afternoon, where he relieved 

* That is 15,000 of his own, 8000 of Ge*rard and 4000 of the 
2nd division Reserve of Paris under Hamelinaye. Corr. 21,162. 
t Corr. 21,159. 

4-o Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

the light division left by Gyulai. He did not 
come into serious collision with Mortier who was 
still about Troyes. 

Platow, on the 1st February, failed in an 
attack on Allix at Sens. Kleist was still only 
between Thionville and Metz ; Kapzewitch was 
within a day's march of Nancy. Both were on 
the way to join Yorck. 



NAPOLEON spent the night of the ist 
to 2nd February in the Chateau of 
Brienne so familiar to him as a student, 
now seen by him for the last time. 
It was only at 1 1 p.m. that he was sure the enemy 
was not continuing the pursuit with fresh troops. 
He then decided on retreat by Lesmont on 

Ricard was to cross the Aube by the bridge 
west of Brienne-la-Vieille, moving on Piney to 
cover the Lesmont-Troyes road. Gerard would 
act as rearguard at Brienne-la-Vieille, supported 
by Nansouty's cavalry. Curial's and Meunier's 
divisions were to wait for Gerard at Brienne-le 
Chateau, Rottembourg to take post on the heights 
half-way to Lesmont, becoming in his turn rear- 
guard as the others passed. Marmont to start at 
3 a.m. and take post at Perthes en Rothiere, 
whence he would retire later behind the Voire, 
and, if pressed, retreat again on Arcis by the right 
bank of the Aube. Macdonald, to whom the 
full extent of the defeat was not disclosed, was 
to manoeuvre to keep open the country between 
the Aube and the Marne. The Emperor was 
already meditating a fresh offensive from Arcis, 
as soon as he should receive the 12,000 or 14,000 
troops recalled from Soult's army in the south. 

42 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

The allies only started at 8 a.m. on the 
2nd February, so that there were only a few- 
small fights with the Emperor's rearguard up to 
Lesmont, where he got safely across the Aube 
and destroyed the bridge effectually. 

Wrede followed Marmont who retired to 
the heights of Rosnay on the right bank of 
the Voire. There he fought a rearguard action, 
and eventually concealed his retreat on Arcis 
with such ability that Wrede completely lost 
touch of him. 

An attempt to intercept the Arcis-Troyes 
road by Piney with the Russian cavalry and 
grenadiers was beaten off by Grouchy and 
Ricard. There was a good deal of confusion 
in Vendceuvre, owing to the unintended meeting 
there of Colloredo and the Guards and Reserves. 

Wittgenstein, about to march on Vitry, found 
himself ordered back to Montier-en-Der. Yorck, 
about to attack Vitry, had to be satisfied with 
masking it, as his advanced guard was in contact 
with Macdonald on the Chalons road, and the 
marshal had to be met. Bllicher, meanwhile, 
had had to stop at Brienne for a council of war 
held at the chateau at 9 a.m. At it were present 
the Tsar, the King of Prussia, Schwarzenberg, 
Bliicher, and Barclay. Their views still varied 
as widely as ever as to the conduct of the 
campaign. At this moment they held the 
decision in their hands ; for, with their great 
superiority of numbers, with Napoleon heavily 
defeated, there could be no doubt that, even after 
the time that had been lost, a direct and deter- 
mined advance on Paris must have succeeded. 
There was no need to think of Macdonald's 

The Retreat after La Rothiere 43 

small force, which could have been easily 
contained by Yorck alone, and defeated when 
Kleist and Kapzewitch reached him. But, as 
before, a summary settlement of the war was not 
in the Austrian programme. Schwarzenberg 
advocated separation of the armies again, on the 
ground of difficulty of supply of so large a force 
on a single line. Bllicher was not unwilling 
to follow this course which would give him some 
freedom of action, and prevent his being held 
back by Schwarzenberg 's intolerable slowness. 
Clausewitz thinks that the separation was partly 
due to the exaggerated importance attributed 
to the victory of La Rothiere, and the belief that 
either of the allied armies was alone capable of 
dealing with Napoleon. Anyhow, whatever the 
motives, the decisions arrived at were — 

(1) The armies to separate. 

(2) Bliicher to march on Chalons, to rally to 
himself Yorck, Kleist, Kapzewitch, and Langeron, 
and then to march by the left bank of the Marne 
to Meaux. 

(3) The army of Bohemia to advance on 
Troyes, and thence, by both banks of the Seine, 
on Paris. 

(4) Wittgenstein and Seslawin's cossacks 
were to form a connecting link between the 

Napoleon, meanwhile, had already divined the 
probable movements of the enemy. He wrote 
from Piney to Clarke on the 2nd February : " I 
shall be at Troyes to-morrow. It is possible that 
the army of Bliicher may move to between the 
Aube and the Marne, towards Vitry and Chalons. 
From Troyes I shall operate, according to 

44 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

circumstances, to retard the movement of the 
column which I am assured is marching by Sens 
on Paris, or else to return and manoeuvre against 
Blucher to delay his march." * 

On the evening of the 2nd the allies had so 
completely lost touch of the Emperor that they 
could not make up their minds which to believe 
of two cavalry reports, one saying the main body 
was retreating on Troyes, the other that it was on 
the road to Vitry. 

On the 3rd February the allies did practically 
nothing, except Blucher who made progress in his 
march to the Marne. The III, IV, and V corps 
were unable to repair the bridge at Lesmont 
which the French had burnt to the water's edge. 
It was only in the evening that it struck anybody 
to march them up the right bank and cross at 
Dienville where the bridge was intact. f 

Napoleon on this day (3rd) safely reached 
Troyes with all his army except Marmont, left 
for the present at Arcis. As soon as Schwarzen- 
berg realized that Napoleon was retreating on 
Troyes, he began to believe the Emperor was 
moving on Bar-sur-Seine to outflank his left and 
threaten his communications with Dijon. This 
made him desire to shift the centre of gravity of 
his army leftwards, and to draw Wittgenstein, the 
connecting link with Blucher, to the left bank of 
the Aube. On the 4th, again, the allies made 

* Corr. 21,169. This letter disposes of Marmont's claim to be 
the real author of the idea of the attack on Blucher. 

f It seems a mistake that Gerard had not destroyed it. Ricard 
was ordered to destroy the bridge below after he had crossed. 
Probably the solidity of the Dienville bridge saved it, as it 
would be difficult for Gerard to blow it up in presence of the 

The Retreat after La Rothiere 45 

little progress. Colloredo was on both banks of 
the Seine, but did not venture to attack the 
French on the Barse where some offensive move- 
ments by Napoleon greatly alarmed Schwarzen- 
berg. The III and IV corps were only just 
over the Dienville bridge, Wrede still between 
Brienne and Dienville. Wittgenstein was at 
Montier-en-Der with cavalry moving towards 

On the French side, the most important 
movement was Marmont's rather feeble retreat 
from Arcis on Mery, after burning all the bridges 
on the Aube near Arcis. As Berthier told him, 
this cut him from Macdonald, endangered convoys 
on the way from Paris, and, finally, prevented the 
Emperor from moving by Arcis against Bliicher, 
should he desire to do so. 

On this day (4th) Schwarzenberg wrote to 
Bliicher explaining that he was moving leftwards, 
in accordance with the general principles of his 
own memorandum of the 13th November, in 
order to outflank Napoleon's right, or at least to 
cut off the troops known to be coming from 
Soult's army. He gives away the real motive of 
his move when he adds that it will reassure him 
as to his own left, and give him free use of an 
excellent line of retreat on Dijon.* He says 
nothing about Seslawin, who was watching 
Marmont and acting as a link with Bliicher, a 
role which he would presumably continue to 

By the evening of the 5th February the 
Russo- Prussian Guards, followed by Colloredo, 
had reached Bar-sur-Seine. The III and IV 
* Weil, II. 17. 

46 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

corps had relieved Colloredo in front of the 
Barse, with the V (Wrede) behind them, and 
Wittgenstein at Piney, with Pahlen at Charmont. 
Any forward movement towards Troyes had been 
checked by the failure of an attack on the La 
Guillotiere bridge, and by a threatened advance 
of Mortier at Maisons Blanches on the left bank 
of the Seine. 

Seslawin was now ordered * from the extreme 
right to the extreme left, and Blucher was not 
informed of the movement. As he had no staff 
officer of his own with Seslawin, and that com- 
mander sent no information of his movement, 
Bllicher was quite unaware of the fact that his 
connecting link with the army of Bohemia was 
gone, and that there was nothing to watch the 
enemy's movements in the space between the 
two armies. The serious consequences following 
on this will appear later. 

During the 5th, Napoleon was preparing to 
retreat on Nogent-sur-Seine, a move on which he 
finally decided on hearing that Macdonald had 
abandoned Chalons before the advance of Yorck. 
He now decided to march against the left flank 
of Bluchers army, leaving a force to contain 
Schwarzenberg. The retreat was begun on the 
6th, masked by leaving Mortier and Gerard at 
Troyes, with a few cavalry on the Barse and at 
Maisons Blanches, and Ricard at Mery. They 
were still in these positions on the evening of the 
6th.f Marmont was at Nogent ; Napoleon with 

* The order appears to have been issued by Barclay, on the 
ground that Seslawin commanded Russian light troops ; but it was 
approved by Schwarzenberg. 

f Map II (f). 

The Retreat after La Rothiere 47 

the rest half-way between Troyes and Nogent. 
On the extreme right were Pajol and Allix, on the 
Yonne at Montereau and Sens. 

It was not till the afternoon of the 7th that 
Schwarzenberg, about to make a general attack 
on Troyes, discovered that it had been evacuated, 
Mortier and Gerard having now followed the 
Emperor to the western side of the great north- 
ward bend of the Seine. Though his army 
had certainly not been overworked in the last 
few days, Schwarzenberg proceeded to rest it 
about Troyes till the 10th. There we will leave 
it for the present whilst we trace the course 
of Napoleon's celebrated manoeuvre against 

Here, at the close of the first marked episode 
of the new campaign, it will be well to consider 
generally events since Napoleon rejoined his 
army at Chalons. In the first place, there arises 
the question whether between the Marne and the 
Aube was the best place for the Emperor to con- 
centrate his army, or whether he would not have 
done better, as Clausewitz thinks, to defend 
Paris indirectly from the neighbourhood of Dijon. 
On the whole, Weil seems to have the best of the 
argument when he points out that the Emperor 
could only have collected there a force very 
inferior to the army of Bohemia. He would, at 
the same time, have left open to Bliicher the 
main road from Metz to Paris. Under these 
circumstances, there was every chance that 
Bliicher would push on to Paris, which he would 
find unfortified, unprotected in the Emperor's 
absence, and full of enemies of Napoleon only 
too ready to receive the allies with open arms. 

48 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

Napoleon knew that Bliicher was his most 
dangerous and implacable enemy, who would not 
hesitate to advance on Paris when he saw his 
way thereby to bring about the Emperor's down- 
fall. With Napoleon in the south-east opposed 
to Schwarzenberg, the latter would be practically 
acting as an immensely powerful flank guard to 
Bllicher's march. Had the lines of Schwarzen- 
berg's and Bllicher's advances been reversed, it 
might have been different ; for Schwarzenberg on 
the northern line, covered by Bliicher on the 
southern, would probably not have dared to march 
on Paris, even if Austrian statecraft had allowed 
him to. 

We assume, then, that Napoleon rightly pro- 
posed to attack the two allied armies in detail 
from Chalons, before they could unite. He was 
there a week too late for his purpose. 

Here is what is said by a very able modern 
French critic : # " It is a matter of regret that 
he [Napoleon] had not arrived to take the 
command of his troops a week earlier. Then, 
neglecting entirely the main body of the army 
of Bohemia, he could have assembled, between 
Toul and Nancy, Victor and Marmont, have 
reinforced them with the troops of Ney and 
Mortier, have resumed the offensive with nearly 
40,000 men against Bliicher, and driven him 
beyond the Moselle, and even on to the Sarre, 
notwithstanding the assistance the Field Marshal 
might have received from the right wing of the 
army of Bohemia. Then, quit of Bliicher, 
Napoleon, rallying Macdonald and his new 
formations between Bar-le-Duc and Chalons, 

* A. G. (Grouard), "Maximes de Napoleon," p. II. 

The Retreat after La Rothiere 49 

would have turned against Schwarzenberg, 
whose position would have been all the more 
perilous the farther he had penetrated into the 
valleys of the Seine and the Marne. At the 
head of 60,000 men he [Napoleon] would have 
forced him [Schwarzenberg] to retire or, at the 
least, would have prevented his advance." That 
puts the case in a nutshell, and it seems to us 
beside the mark to argue with Weil that the 
marshals, with more ability and co-operation, 
might have held back the enemy, so that he was 
still in the position above described on the 26th 
January. They had not done so, and, knowing 
them as he did, Napoleon had no great reason 
to expect them to do so. With all the work of 
various kinds he had to do in Paris, it was no 
doubt difficult for the Emperor to be at Chalons 
earlier; but that is another matter. He had 
lost his opportunity of preventing the junction 
of the allied armies. 

When he found he was too late, he took the 
most natural and reasonable course in attacking- 
the nearest troops of the enemy, those of Blucher, 
whom it was not unreasonable to suppose he 
might still be in time to defeat, or even to 
annihilate, before they received the full support of 
the army of Bohemia. It would not have been 
much good to try and cut off Yorck ; for that 
general could easily have retreated before him, 
drawing him forward into a most dangerous 

We have already dealt with the battles of 
Brienne and La Rothiere, and the reasons 
why Napoleon fought the latter. The Austrians 
never meant it to be the victory Blucher would 


50 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

have wished. What their views were is very 
clearly shown by a letter written by the Emperor 
of Austria to Schwarzenberg on the 29th 
January.* It is worth translating in full ; for, 
though the hand is the hand of Francis, the 
voice is clearly Metternich's. 

M Even after having retaken Joinville and 
driven the enemy back on Vitry, we ought not, 
so long as the enemy is at Chalons, to march 
from Bar-sur-Aube to Troyes. We must not 
forget that the enemy can, from the South of 
France, move against our left, where the allies 
have few men, and that it is very necessary to 
hold strongly the road which, in case of a check, 
would serve for retreat. It is, therefore, in- 
dispensable both not to advance, and also to 
take all eventual measures for a retrograde 
movement. If, regardless of common sense, the 
Emperor of Russia should pronounce in favour 
of the forward march, you will insist on the 
previous assembly of a council of war, and 
you can be certain that I shall support your 

When his own sovereign could write such a 
letter, it seems almost a sufficient excuse for all 
Schwarzenberg's hesitations. Small wonder, too, 
that Bliicher should be anxious to get away from 
such an atmosphere. 

The separation of the armies is strongly 
condemned by Clausewitz, and probably by every 
other critic, on strategical grounds. Bliicher 
could not, for the present, expect to assemble 
more than 60,000 men, and that number, against 

* Given by Weil (II. 354), who found it in the archives at 

The Retreat after La Rothiere 51 

40,000 or 50,000 under Napoleon, could not be 
certain of victory. 

The Emperor's retreat on Troyes was scarcely 
molested, as it certainly might have been, seeing 
that the enemy held all the bridges of the Aube 
down to Dienville. ' 



NAPOLEON, as we have seen, had 
already on the 2nd February foreseen 
the probable separation of Bliicher 
and Schwarzenberg after La Rothiere, 
and begun to meditate a blow against the former.* 
He was now in a position analogous to that he 
had hoped to hold at Chalons on the 26th 
January. The question was whether he should 
strike first at Bliicher or at Schwarzenberg. 
Clausewitz holds that he rightly chose Bliicher, 
the more dangerous and determined enemy, who 
might take the opportunity of an attack on 
Schwarzenberg to advance direct on Paris. 
Bliicher was, too, the weaker in numbers, whilst 
Schwarzenberg would, with his known indecision, 
be more easily contained by a force left for the 

Before starting, the Emperor reorganized his 
army. The cavalry, under the general command 
of Grouchy, was formed into four corps f and the 
separate division of Defrance. 

He created a new VII corps under Oudinot, 
composed of the two divisions of Leval and 
P. Boyer just arriving from Soult's army. To 

* Supra, p. 43. 

t 1st (Bordesoulle), 2nd (St. Germain), 5th (Milhaud), and 6th 
(Kellermann). Defrance had four regiments of Guards of 
Honbur and the 10th Hussars. 

The First Pursuit of Blucher 53 

contain the Bohemian army, he left the VII 
corps, Victor with the II corps, Gerard's Reserve 
of Paris, and the 5th cavalry corps. Pajol and 
Allix were on the Yonne. Mortier, with two 
divisions of Old Guard at Nogent, was to mask 
the Emperor's movement and be ready to 
follow it. No supreme command was created 
over the containing troops. 

Under this scheme, Victor in the centre 
would defend the heights of Pont-sur-Seine and 
the passage at Nogent, retiring to the right bank 
and blowing up the bridges if the enemy 
advanced in great strength. Oudinot would 
form the right, and would be reinforced by 
Rottembourg, at present guarding the parks at 
Provins. He would also have under his orders 
Pajol's cavalry at Montereau, Allix at Sens, and 
a brigade (600) of cavalry shortly due at Bray. 
If Schwarzenberg marched on Sens and Pont- 
sur-Yonne, or if Victor was forced on to the right 
bank of the Seine, Oudinot would concentrate 
with Victor towards Montereau. The total force 
left to contain the army of Bohemia was about 
39,000 strong. 

The left group of the army was the striking 
force which Napoleon took against Blucher, 
consisting of Mortier (temporarily left behind), 
Marmont, Ney's two divisions of Young Guard, 
part of the cavalry of the Guard, the 1st cavalry 
corps, and Defrance's cavalry division, in all about 
20,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry. 

Here we must summarize the movements, 
since La Rothiere, of Blucher, Yorck, and 

Blucher, by the 4th February, was marching 

54 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

on Sommesous, after capturing a large convoy on 
the Chalons- Arcis road; Yorck, meanwhile, had 
driven Macdonald back to and out of Chalons 
on the 5th February. On this day Blticher, 
convinced that Napoleon was not endeavouring 
to draw Macdonald to himself, decided on joining 
Yorck in an attempt to destroy that marshal. In 
the evening Blticher received Schwarzenberg's 
letter explaining his southward move. Inferring 
from that letter that Napoleon was likely to be 
drawn well away from himself, Blticher decided 
on a manoeuvre which would certainly be very 
risky if Napoleon was likely to be able to 
interfere with it. Yorck was to pursue Mac- 
donald directly by the great Paris road along the 
left bank of the Marne to Chateau-Thierry, and 
thence by the right bank to La Ferte-sous- 
Jouarre. There Blticher, marching by the chord 
of the arc by the "little" Paris road, through 
Champaubert and Montmirail, might hope to 
anticipate Macdonald, and either to crush him 
between Yorck and the rest of the Silesian army, 
or else to compel him to seek by difficult cross- 
roads to gain the Soissons- Paris road. But 
Blticher wanted to combine two incompatible 
objects. In addition to the attack on Macdonald 
westwards, he wanted to wait for Kleist and 
Kapzewitch, expected shortly from the east. 
He decided to keep Olsunew's weak corps 
with himself, as a link connecting Kleist and 
Kapzewitch with Sacken, who was to move on 
La Ferte-sous-Jouarre. By the 8th the position 
was this : Macdonald, fully alive to his danger, 
had passed the Marne at Chateau-Thierry, and 
sent on cavalry to secure the next crossing at 

The First Pursuit of Bliicher 55 

La Ferte-sous-Jouarre. Yorck's advanced guard 
(Katzeler) was pressing Macdonald, but the main 
body was still far behind. 

Sacken's main body was at Montmirail, with 
cavalry at Viels Maisons. Twelve miles behind 
him, at Etoges, was Olsufiew with about 4000 
men. Bllicher's headquarters were at Vertus, 
nine miles behind Olsufiew, and Kleist and 
Kapzewitch were yet another sixteen miles 
behind, at Chalons. Thus, on the evening of 
the 8th, Bllicher's main column was scattered 
over a length of some forty-four miles, whilst 
Yorck was some twelve or fourteen miles north, 
separated from Sacken by almost impassable 
roads. Had Napoleon really been where 
Bliicher believed, there was no serious risk in 
this dispersion, for Macdonald had only some 
10,000 men. Bliicher, being unaware that 
Seslawin no longer watched the space between 
his left and Wittgenstein, the right-hand corps 
of the army of Bohemia beyond the Aube, 
naturally expected that any French movement 
in that space would be reported to him by the 
cossacks. So little anxiety was there in the 
Silesian army that when, in the evening of the 
8th, Karpow's cossacks were driven back from 
Sezanne on Montmirail, Sacken considered it of 
no importance, and did not report it. Yet, that 
same evening, Marmont had his leading division 
in Sezanne, and Ney was behind him, between 
Villenauxe and Sezanne. 

During the 9th Macdonald got safely across 
the Marne again at La Ferte-sous-Jouarre, 
where he with difficulty repelled an attack of 
Wassiltchikow with Sacken's cavalry. Yorck 

56 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

had abandoned the pursuit of Macdonald as 
hopeless at Dormans ; the French marshal had 
gained too long a start.* 

On the evening of the 9th Bluchers position 
was as scattered as ever ; for, though he had sent 
Olsufiew on to Champaubert, and had been 
joined at Vertus and Bergeres by Kleist and 
Kapzewitch, Sacken's advance towards La Ferte- 
sous-Jouarre had equally lengthened the line at 
the western end. 

During the day (9th) Marmont's cavalry, 
advancing northwards, had shown themselves 
as far forward as St. Prix on the Petit Morin, 
and even towards Champaubert. Even this 
created no alarm at Bllicher's headquarters ; for 
the very fact that this cavalry subsequently 
retired tended to allay the suspicion, which 
Muffling says he expressed, that it was the 
advanced guard of a large force. Bllicher was 
still enjoying his fancied security without any 
suspicion of the storm gathering on his left. 
Gneisenau, according to Muffling, would have 
nothing to do with the latter's inferences from 
the appearance of French cavalry, or his proposal 
to recall Sacken. The most Gneisenau would 
agree to was that Sacken should be told to 
remain at Montmirail, whence, if there was any 
serious movement of the enemy, he could either 
return to Bllicher or join Yorck and pass the 
Marne at Chateau-Thierry, with a view to 
joining Winzingerode, who was now approaching 
from the north. In the former case there would 
be 39,000 men (Sacken, Olsufiew, Kleist, and 
Kapzewitch) towards Etoges, and 18,000 (Yorck) 
* Map II (g). 

The First Pursuit of Blucher 57 

at Chateau-Thierry. In the other case there 
would be 38,000 (Sacken and Yorck) at Chateau- 
Thierry, and 19,000 about Etoges.* 

At this juncture there arrived a letter from 
Schwarzenberg requesting Blucher to send 
Kleist to reinforce Wittgenstein on the right 
of the army of Bohemia. Consequently, Kleist 
and Kapzewitch were ordered to march, on the 
10th, on Sezanne, whither also Olsunew would 
go from Champaubert. 

Napoleon reached Sezanne late in the night 
of the 9th with the Guard. There had been 
immense difficulty in getting the guns over the 
terrible roads and marshes of the forest of 
Traconnes. The weather, which throughout this 
campaign was alternately freezing and thawing, 
was just now in the latter stage. But for the 
assistance of the peasants and their horses, the 
task would have been almost insuperable. 

During the night of the 9th-ioth Blucher at 
last learnt that Napoleon himself was with the 
troops at Sezanne. What was the Emperor 
going to do ? Would he attack Olsunew ; or 
would he, disregarding this small Russian corps, 
make straight for Sacken by Montmirail ? Was 
he only seeking to join Macdonald at La Ferte- 
sous-Jouarre ? Blucher knew not. Sacken had 
been left some discretion as to what he would 
do. Muffling, according to his own account, 
sent one of his staff officers to try and persuade 
Sacken to exercise his discretion by marching 
on Champaubert. Gneisenau, however, stopped 
this officer, and changed his message to one 

* The figures are Miiffling's. He puts Sacken at 20,000, 
though Janson says he had only 16,000 at Montmirail. 

58 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

telling Sacken that, if he still thought the repulse 
of Karpow's cossacks on the 8th was unimportant, 
he should continue his pursuit of Macdonald. 
When the news of Napoleon's presence arrived 
it was too late to countermand this order. 

Bliicher now set off from Champaubert to 
join Kleist and Kapzewitch in their march to 
Sezanne. As they marched, in the morning of 
the 10th, they heard the roar of guns on their 
right, in the direction of Champaubert, but it was 
only in the afternoon that Bliicher heard of the 
disaster which they heralded. 

The "little" Paris road,* along which 
Bllicher's main column was spread, runs from 
Bergeres westwards along the southern edge of 
the undulating plateau which extends between 
the Marne on the north and the great marsh of 
St. Gond and the Petit Morin stream on the 
south. The road runs far enough from the edge 
to pass round the heads of the lateral valleys, 
which, especially about Champaubert and Mont- 
mirail, cut back into the plateau. On the 
Sezanne-Epernay road, on which Napoleon 
stood, the Petit Morin is crossed, just west of 
the St. Gond marsh, by a bridge at St. Prix. 
Over that bridge Olsufiew would have to pass 
on his march to Sezanne ; therefore, he had 
not destroyed it. But he had also taken no 
measures to guard it, so that, when Napoleon 
sent forward his cavalry in the early morning 
of the 10th, it seized the passage unopposed. 

Olsufiew had about 4000 f infantry and 

* Map II (i). 

f Poltoratzki told Napoleon he had only 3690. Danilewski, 
p. 106 (English translation). 

The First Pursuit of Bliicher 59 

24 guns, but no cavalry. He was, there- 
fore, not in a position to fight Napoleon, 
and he should clearly have retreated towards 
Etoges. But he was smarting under censures 
for his mistake in letting the French capture 
the chateau at Brienne on the 29th January, 
and for his management of his troops at La 
Rothiere. Sacken had even threatened him 
with a court-martial. Therefore, he resolved to 
stand when he heard of the French advance. 
He sent Udom with four regiments of infantry 
and six guns to hold Baye, about half-way 
between St. Prix and Champaubert. 

Napoleon's cavalry was followed by Marmont 
andNey. About 11 a.m. Ricard attacked Udom 
and drove him into Baye and the neighbouring 
woods, whilst Lagrange bore to the left towards 
Bannay. Olsufiew had now sent another brigade 
to support Udom, but Ney was soon up and 
firing with his artillery on Bannay, from which 
Lagrange's first attack had been repulsed. 

By 3 p.m., after a stubborn resistance, both 
Baye and Bannay had been cleared of Russians. 
On the French right Bordessoulle's cavalry, on 
the left Doumerc's were pushing forward to cut 
off the Russian retreat. 

Olsufiew, who had hitherto obstinately refused 
to retreat, though he had sent news to Bliicher of 
what was happening, now attempted to fall back. 
Poltoratzki, with two regiments and nine guns, 
was left to hold Champaubert to the last, 
whilst Olsufiew, who had already sent off some 
of his guns, endeavoured to follow them to 

Poltoratzki, now surrounded by infantry, was 

60 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

charged on all sides by French cavalry. He 
made a brave resistance, and only surrendered, 
with 1000 men and nine guns, when his ammuni- 
tion gave out. 

Olsufiew, unable to get along the main road, 
took a side track through the woods towards 
Epernay ; but, in the terrible weather on a 
wretched road, only about 1600 or 1700 men and 
1 5 guns succeeded in escaping through the woods. 
Olsufiew himself was captured. 

Napoleon's victory was as complete as might 
have been expected from his great superiority of 

The Emperor now stood in the midst of 
Bluchers widely separated corps. To the east 
were Kleist and Kapzewitch, now, on the receipt 
of news of Olsufiew's disaster, making a night 
march back to Vertus. They had already got 
nearly to Fere Champenoise when Blucher 
turned them back. Due west of Napoleon was 
Sacken, who had made matters worse by continu- 
ing his march on Trilport. Yorck was north-west 
at Chateau-Thierry and Viffort. 

There could be little doubt as to the direction 
Napoleon would take. A movement against 
Blucher could only result in his retreat on 
Chalons or Epernay, whilst Yorck and Sacken 
escaped over the Marne at Chateau- Thierry. 

If, however, the Emperor marched westwards 
against Sacken's rear, whilst Macdonald again 
advanced from Trilport, there was every 
possibility of annihilating Sacken, though Yorck 
might get away over the Marne. That, there- 
fore, was the direction Napoleon chose. 

Blucher, meanwhile, had written to Yorck to 

The First Pursuit of Bliicher 61 

advance on Montmirail. The bridge at Chateau- 
Thierry, if restored, was to be kept open, "in 
order that, if unfortunately the enemy should cut 
your corps and Sacken's from my army, you may 
be able to escape to the right bank of the 
Marne. " These orders only reached Yorck at 
night on the ioth. 

To Sacken Bliicher wrote merely that, con- 
centrating with Yorck at Montmirail, he should 
be able to open the road to Vertus, if the enemy 
were between him and Bliicher. Nothing- was 
said to him about an escape over the Marne. 

Napoleon had written, at 3 p.m., to Macdonald 
announcing his victory over Olsufiew, and tell- 
ing him to move eastwards. At 7 p.m. he 
ordered Nansouty, with two divisions of cavalry, 
supported by two of Marmont's brigades, to 
seize Montmirail and reconnoitre towards Viels 
Maisons.* Mortier, now at Sezanne, was to 
march at daybreak for Montmirail, leaving a 
rear-guard at Suzanne and sending Defrance 
to get into touch with Leval's division which 
Oudinot had been ordered to send towards La 
Ferte Gaucher, f Leval, on reaching La Ferte 
Gaucher, was to march to the sound of the guns, 
which he would probably hear between Viels 
Maisons and Montmirail. Ney was to march, at 
6 a.m., on Montmirail. Marmont to send Ricard 
at 3 a.m. to support Nansouty. He was himself 
to remain at Etoges, with Lagrange's division 
and the 1st cavalry corps, watching Bliicher, and 

* So spelt on the modern map. One would have expected 
Vieilles Maisons. Napoleon calls it Vieux Maisons. 

t Oudinot was also to send Rottembourg's division if he was 
not hard pressed. He was unable to do so. 

62 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

endeavouring to ascertain whether he was re- 
treating on Chalons or Epernay, or contemplated 
the offensive westwards on Napoleon's rear.* 

Of Napoleon's two prospective opponents, 
Yorck replied to Blucher's order of 7 a.m., saying 
that, if Napoleon's offensive movement continued, 
his own junction with Sacken seemed impossible. 
He had no information as to Sacken's intentions, 
and, as his own troops were too exhausted to 
move that night, he proposed to concentrate them 
next day at Viffort, with cavalry out towards 
Montmirail. Sacken, on the other hand, started 
on his return journey to Montmirail at 9 p.m. on 
the 10th, after again breaking the bridge at La 
Ferte-sous-Jouarre. It took him twelve hours to 
get to Viels Maisons, his advanced guard being 
in contact with the French farther east. Yorck 
was, at the same hour (9 a.m. on the nth), at 
Viffort. His cavalry had encountered French 
cavalry at Rozoy and Fontenelle. Knowing that 
Karpow's cossacks had been driven from Mont- 
mirail in the early morning, and that Sacken had 

* Having issued his orders, Napoleon wrote to Joseph a 
ridiculously exaggerated account of his victory. A great deal of 
nonsense has been written about Napoleon's bulletins. He made 
no pretence that they were true, and, as in the case of this letter 
(Corr. 21,217), they were often deliberately exaggerated for 
political or military purposes. He has very frankly stated his 
views on this subject in another letter to Joseph (Corr. 21,360, 
dated 24th February, 1814). " Newspapers are no more history 
than bulletins are history. One ought always to make the enemy 
believe one has immense forces. " Unless report lies, the Bulgar- 
ians of to-day have gone one better than Napoleon in encouraging 
the spread of reports of pursuits and actions which never took 
place at all. The author, for one, does not see that they or 
Napoleon can be blamed if exaggerated, or even false statements 
thus published were calculated to deceive the actual or possible 
enemy. In such matters, commanders can hardly be expected to 
adhere to a very severe standard of truth. 

The First Pursuit of Bliicher 63 

lost one possible line of retreat by destroying the 
bridge at La Ferte-sous-Jouarre, Yorck realized 
more clearly than Sacken the latter's danger. 
He sent to urge Sacken's immediate retreat on 
Chateau-Thierry. His staff officer found the 
Russian preparing for battle with what he per- 
sisted in calling only a weak detachment. He 
was unaffected by the information that Yorck 
could not reach the field till late, and even then 
without his heavy artillery, which the badness 
of the roads compelled him to leave at Chateau- 
Thierry with a brigade of infantry. When 
Napoleon reached Montmirail, in the night of the 
ioth-nth, he was ignorant of the fact that 
Macdonald, by destroying the Trilport bridge, 
had put out of his own power that advance on 
Sacken's rear which Napoleon fully expected. 
The Emperor was satisfied, by an early recon- 
naissance, that Sacken and Yorck were still 
separated. Nansouty had already driven Russian 
outposts from Les Chouteaux farm, half-way to 
Viels Maisons. In order to prevent the union of 
Sacken and Yorck, the Emperor decided to take 
post at the junction of the road from Chateau- 
Thierry with the main road. In those days it 
was between Le Tremblay and Montmirail, where 
a bye-road now comes in. Nansouty was across 
the Chateau-Thierry road short of le Plenois 
farm, with his artillery on his left, extending to 
the La Ferte road ; Friant's Old Guard stood at 
the junction of the roads, with Defrance on his 
right. Mortier had not yet reached Montmirail.* 
This disposition shows that Napoleon expected 

* He marched by the cross road direct from Sezanne to Mont- 

64 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

an attack north of the La Ferte road, which, 
indeed, Sacken's staff urged on the ground of 
proximity to Yorck. But Sacken seems to have 
thought he could break a way past the " weak 
detachment " by the valley of the Petit Morin. 

Tscherbatow's corps * was sent against 
Marchais, with Liewen's corps between it and 
the road. The cavalry alone was north of the 
road. Most of the heavy artillery was in the 

Sacken had about 16,300 men and 90 guns.f 
Napoleon, according to Houssaye had only 12,800. 
The highest accounts give him 20,000. 

It was about 1 1 a.m. when Ricard was driven 
from Marchais. An hour later, more French 
artillery having come up in the interval, Napoleon 
sent him to retake the village, Friant moving up 
to Tremblay where Ricard had been. Mortier 
now replaced Friant at the cross roads. 

At Marchais a furious combat raged till 2 p.m., 
the original 2300 Russians who had taken it 
being constantly reinforced. The French failed 
to retake it finally by this hour. Napoleon now 
sent Ney forward, covered on his right by Nan- 
souty, on La Haute Epine north of the road. 

This attack fell upon Sacken's left which he 
had weakened in order to strengthen the force 
towards Marchais. Ney broke through the first 
line and the fight was only restored by the use of 

* Commanded by Talisin II., vice Tscherbatow sick. 

t The number is given by Janson, but Muffling says Sacken 
had 20,000. He had 26,500 in the beginning of January: he 
had lost perhaps 5500 at Brienne and La Rothiere. Sacken 
had 13,679 men left on the 16th February, and, as his losses on 
the nth and 12th were about 4300, he should have had 18,000 at 

The First Pursuit of Bliicher 65 

Russian reserves. Nansouty, meanwhile, had 
been brought to a standstill by Wassiltchikow's 
cavalry, now in touch on its left with that of Yorck. 
Then Guyot charged with four squadrons of the 
Emperor's personal Guard. Charging past La 
Haute Epine, simultaneously occupied by Friant, 
Guyot broke up some Russian infantry trying to 
cross the road northwards. 

Sacken's centre was now seriously shaken, 
his left, still in Marchais, in great danger. 

We must now see what Yorck had been doing. 
Finding that Sacken was determined to fight, he 
first safeguarded his own retreat by sending back 
another brigade to Chateau-Thierry. He feared 
an attack by Macdonald on his right and rear. 
His two remaining brigades (Horn and Pirch) 
could only reach Fontenelle over the sodden road 
at 3-3° P- m « Katzeler's cavalry had already 
joined Wassiltchikow against Nansouty. The 
Prussian reserve cavalry now deployed between 
Fontenelle and Les Tournaux, as did the infantry. 
As they advanced on Plenois and Bailly they 
were met by Mortier with Michel's division, who, 
after a stubborn fight, drove them back on 
Fontenelle where night brought the fighting to an 
end. Sacken was in great danger of being com- 
pletely surrounded ; for Napoleon, reinforcing 
the attack on Marchais, at last took the village. 
Its defenders, charged by Defrance as they left 
it, were nearly all killed or taken. 

Nevertheless, Yorck's timely intervention had 
gained time for the debris of Sacken's corps to 
get away by their left to join him on the Chateau- 
Thierry road. 

In their short combat with Michel the 


66 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

Prussians had lost about 900 men. Sacken 
naturally lost more heavily, altogether about 2000 
killed and wounded, 800 prisoners, 6 standards, 
and 13 guns. The French loss was about 2000 
killed and wounded. They were too exhausted 
to pursue that night.* 

Bliicher, with Kleist and Kapzewitch, had 
got back to Bergeres on the morning of the nth. 
As he had no cavalry for the moment, he pro- 
posed retreating through the wooded country 
towards Epernay, rather than over the open plain 
to Chalons. 

Receiving Yorck's message of the previous 
night,f he at once despatched orders to him and 
Sacken to cross the Marne and make for Reims, 
where the army would re-assemble. When 
Yorck received this, he had just heard Sacken 
was moving by his right instead of his left. He 
felt bound to try and rescue the Russians. 

Macdonald, receiving at Meaux the order to 
advance, found himself unable, owing to his own 
destruction of the Trilport bridge, to do more 
than send St. Germain's cavalry round by Lagny 
and Coulommiers, promising to follow by the same 
road next day. St. Germain reached Napoleon 
after the battle ; Sebastiani, who had tried to get 
over by La Fert^-sous-Jouarre, was held up by 
the broken bridge. 

The French pursuit of Sacken and Yorck only 
started again at 9 a.m. on the 12th, Mortier by 
the direct road, the Emperor through Haute 
Epine and Rozoy. 

The Prussians covering Sacken's retreat made 

* Positions on evening of nth. Map. II (h). 
f Supra, p. 62. 

The First Pursuit of Blucher 67 

some stand at Les Caquerets and again in front 
of Chateau-Thierry, but on each occasion they 
were forced back, and at the last place Ney, 
defeating the cavalry on their left, arrived on the 
heights overlooking the Marne. The Prussian 
infantry with difficulty escaped, and Heidenreich, 
on their right, was compelled to surrender with 
two Russian regiments. Finally, the passage of 
the Marne was only effected in safety thanks to 
the fire of a heavy battery from beyond the river. 

This day cost the Prussians about 1250 men, 
6 guns, and part of their baggage, whilst Sacken 
lost 1500 men, 3 guns, and nearly all his wheeled 
transport. The French loss did not exceed 600. 
Mortier was detailed for the pursuit of Sacken 
and Yorck with Christian's Old Guard division 
and the cavalry of Colbert and Defrance. It 
was only on the afternoon of the 1 3th that the 
bridge could be restored for his passage. By 
that time, Yorck and Sacken were far away at 

Napoleon spent the night of the 12th- 13th 
at Chateau-Thierry. Believing that Oudinot 
and Victor were still holding Schwarzenberg at 
Nogent, and that Blucher had retreated either on 
Chalons or Epernay, he ordered, (1) Ricard to 
march from Montmirail to rejoin Marmont, 
(2) Macdonald to amalgamate his own (XI) corps 
and Sebastiani's (V) into one (XI), and to be 
ready to march with it, reinforced by a National 
Guard division just arrived at Meaux from 

At 2 p.m. news of the advance of Schwarzen- 
berg decided the Emperor to leave the Silesian 
army and return to the Seine. Macdonald was 

68 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

to march for Montereau, where Napoleon hoped 
to have 27,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry by 
the 15th. But news presently arrived from 
Marmont which showed that a blow must be 
struck at Blucher first. The Prussian Field 
Marshal had not retreated ; for Marmont, with 
only 2500 infantry and 1800 cavalry, had not 
dared to molest him. His inactivity at last 
induced Blucher to believe that Napoleon was 
off to the Seine, with Marmont covering his 
march to Sezanne. On the evening of the 1 2th, 
Blucher decided to attack Marmont next day, 
hoping then to descend on Napoleon's rear as the 
Emperor marched for the Seine. He had now 
got some 800 cavalry. 

Marmont, at Etoges,* at once recognized that 
he could not make head even against Ziethen's 
advanced guard of 5000 infantry and 700 cavalry. 
By night on the 13th, Bliicher's headquarters 
were at Champaubert, with Ziethen in front of 
him, and Kleist and Kapzewitch behind. Mar- 
mont had retired in good order to Fromentieres. 

It was 3 a.m. on the 14th when Napoleon 
heard of Bliicher's advance. He at once ordered 
to advance east of Montmirail Ney, St. Germain, 
Friant, Curial, and Leval, the last named having 
only reached Viels Maisons the previous evening. 
The Emperor said he hoped to be at Montmirail 
in person by 7 a.m. and to give Blucher a lesson 
by noon. A good position was to be chosen east 
of Montmirail. 

At 4.30 a.m. Marmont had begun to fall back. 

Blucher only moved two hours later. There was 

a little skirmishing with Ziethen before Marmont 

* Map II (i). 

The First Pursuit of Bliicher 69 

got through Vauchamps, behind which village he 
drew up the 5000 men he had since Ricard had 
rejoined. His left was thrown forward into a 
small wood. At 10 a.m. Ziethen attacked with 
his Prussian infantry on the right, the cavalry on 
their left, and 3000 Russian infantry on the left 
rear of it. 

Bliicher, starting three hours after Ziethen, 
was only at Fromentieres when he learnt that 
there was French infantry in the wood of 
Beaumont and cavalry north of the road, threat- 
ening to push in between Ziethen and himself. 
Marmont, with the Emperor's reinforcements 
now coming up, sent Ricard forward with the 
800 men who were all that now remained of his 
division. Ziethen at first repulsed him, but 
then, as he pursued, was attacked by Lagrange 
in front and by cavalry on his right The latter 
was Grouchy 's which the Emperor had sent 
round by Sarrechamps. Ziethen was disastrously 
defeated, only 532 men out of four Prussian 
battalions escaping to Janvilliers. The Russian 
infantry retreated in squares in good order. 
Kleist and Kapzewitch, meanwhile, had only 
reached Fromentieres at noon, where they heard 
the sound of Ziethen's fight. Hacke's 2000 
cavalry, which had reached Bliicher on the 13th, 
was sent forward, whilst the infantry deployed 
across the road a mile east of Vauchamps. 
Bliicher now saw Grouchy's cavalry moving in 
great strength round his right. His inference 
that Napoleon was present was confirmed by a 
French prisoner. With his line of retreat 
threatened by Grouchy, he decided to fall back 
on Etoges. The road was reserved for guns and 

jo Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

wagons, whilst the infantry, with only a few guns, 
marched over the sodden fields, Kleist north, 
Kapzewitch south of the road. Udom, with the 
remains of Olsufiew's corps, had been left at 
Champaubert, and was now ordered to hold the 
great wood of La Grande Laye, between that 
place and Etoges. 

At first the retreat progressed in good order, 
though harassed by constant attacks by Grouchy's 
cavalry on the north, and the Guard cavalry on 
the south. 

Muffling, marching with Kleist, was hurrying 
the retreat of the right in order to seize the defile 
between La Grande Laye and the large pond. 
Kleist was thus some way ahead of Kapzewitch, 
who was more harassed by the French infantry 
in front, and by cavalry charges. Bliicher, who 
was with Kapzewitch, now ordered Kleist to wait 
for him. By this time Grouchy was up to La 
Grande Laye which, under orders from Kapze- 
witch, Udom had evacuated in order to retreat 
on Etoges. At 4.30 Grouchy advanced south- 
westwards in four long lines between La Grande 
Laye and the Champaubert-Epernay road. 
Carrying away Hacke's cavalry, he fell upon 
Kleist's infantry, which was simultaneously 
charged by Laferriere's Guard cavalry on its 
left. Assailed in front, flank, and rear, with 
many of his squares broken, Kleist's plight 
seemed desperate. It was only by immense 
personal exertions on the part of Bliicher, 
Muffling, Kleist, and others that the men were 
rallied and a way was forced through Grouchy's 
cavalry to Etoges. Had Grouchy's horse artillery 
not been kept back by the clayey soil, Kleist 

The First Pursuit of Blucher 71 

could hardly have escaped at all. Blucher again 
narrowly escaped capture. 

Night having now fallen, Ney rallied his 
cavalry and sent only a portion of it after the 
enemy as they retreated. Blucher's remaining 
troops were utterly exhausted. Nevertheless, 
the old marshal decided to continue his retreat 
on Chalons at once, leaving only Ouroussow's 
division in Etoges to cover the retreat. Fight- 
ing seemed over for the day. Ouroussow's men 
were dispersed in Etoges, hunting for food and 
fuel, and keeping no look-out, when once more 
the French fell on them. Napoleon, already on 
his way back to Montmirail with Ney, the Guard, 
and Leval, had sent orders to Marmont to follow on 
Blucher's heels. It was between 8 and 9 p.m. 
when Marmont's troops surprised Ouroussow. 
The attack was made with the bayonet on men 
who had mostly laid aside their arms in the 
search for food. All but a very few were killed, 
wounded, or taken, Ouroussow amongst the latter. 
This day (14th February) had been almost more 
disastrous than its predecessors for Blucher's 
army. The Prussians lost about 4000 men and 
7 guns, nearly half Kleist's strength. Kapze- 
witch lost over 2000 men and 9 guns. The 
French loss was again insignificant, being 
estimated at only 600. In the four days' fighting 
at Champaubert, Montmirail, Chateau-Thierry, 
and Vauchamps, Blucher's army of about 56,000 
men had lost over 16,000 men and 47 guns. 
Napoleon's loss had been only about 4000. 

This is a convenient place for reviewing 
generally Napoleon's manoeuvre against Blucher, 

7 2 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

which is considered, rightly probably, to be the 
finest he made in 18 14. His conduct has been 
praised to the sky, whilst Blticher has been 
blamed equally. Both praise and blame seem to 
be excessive. To begin with Napoleon, the idea 
of an attack on Blucher whilst Schwarzenberg 
was contained on the Seine was exactly what 
might have been expected from the great master 
of operations on interior lines, from the com- 
mander of the French army in Italy in 1796. 
The way in which he masked his march from 
Schwarzenberg, the rapidity of its execution in 
the face of fearful difficulties of roads, were worthy 
of Napoleon's best days, and of the pluck and 
tenacity of his soldiers. Neither Blucher nor 
Schwarzenberg realized what was happening till 
the Emperor fell like a thunderbolt on the 
hapless Olsufiew. Yet Napoleon owed much, 
in his escape from the notice of Blucher, to luck, 
or rather to the mistakes of his opponents. 
Blucher still believed, up to the 9th February, 
that Seslawin was watching the country between 
his left and the Aube. Had that been so, 
Seslawin should have been able to report 
Napoleon's march. Blucher must certainly be 
blamed in part for his ignorance of Seslawin's 
departure. Of course he ought to have been 
informed of it, but, on the other hand, he would 
have done better to keep himself in touch with 
Seslawin through a staff officer deputed to the 
latter's headquarters.* This want of inter- 
communication between commandants of corps 
was one of the marked defects of the allied 

* On this subject see Capt. Jones' lectures on this campaign. 

The First Pursuit of Bliicher 73 

When Napoleon fell upon Olsufiew, the army 
of Silesia was scattered in isolated corps over an 
immense distance. This was due to Bliicher's 
endeavour to compass two separate and incom- 
patible objects, (1) the destruction of Macdonald, 
and (2) the rallying to himself of Kleist and Kapze- 
witch. For the dispersion of his army Bliicher has 
been greatly blamed. But it must be remembered 
in his favour that he had good reason to believe 
himself safe from any movement of Napoleon 
against himself. That belief was based on his 
assumption that Seslawin was still watching 
between himself and the Aube, and on Schwarzen- 
berg's statements as to Napoleon's supposed 
intention of moving farther south. In that case, 
the Emperor would have been far out of reach of 
Bliicher, and there would have been no risk in the 
separation of the corps, with only such a weak 
opponent as Macdonald before them. Either 
Yorck or Sacken alone was more than a match 
for him. On the other hand, critics after the 
event seem to have considered that Napoleon 
knew before he started that he would find 
Bliicher's army scattered as it was. He knew 
nothing of the sort, and it was probably only at 
Champaubert that he realized how wonderfully 
lucky he had been in coming on the centre of a 
long line, instead of finding his 30,000 men 
opposed to a concentrated army of over 50,000. 

Bliicher's march with Kleist and Kapzewitch 
on Fere Champenoise on the 10th, a march which 
still continued to the accompaniment of the guns 
at Champaubert, is condemned even by Clause- 
witz, who is little inclined to find fault with 
Bliicher. Perhaps Bliicher believed that the 

74 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

movement towards his right rear would stop 
Napoleon ; but more weight may probably be 
given to his habitual loyalty and his desire to 
move Kleist as ordered by Schwarzenberg. 
Olsufiew certainly made a grievous mistake in 
deciding to fight a hopeless battle at Champaubert, 
and in refusing to retreat, though urged to do so 
by Bliicher's aide-de-camp, Nostitz, and his own 
generals, until it was too late. We have already 
alluded to the fear of censure which influenced a 
general of little capacity. 

Napoleon, after Champaubert, was in a thor- 
oughly congenial position. Little credit need be 
given him for marching against Sacken whilst Mar- 
mont watched Blucher. It was a course obviously 
right even to smaller men than the Emperor. 
Sacken sinned, like Blucher and Olsufiew, in 
obstinately refusing to attribute its true importance 
to Napoleon's advance on Montmirail till it was 
too late. He insisted on advancing towards his 
right, instead of bearing to his left towards Yorck. 
Gneisenau, however, should have warned him, 
as he did warn Yorck, of the possibility of a 
retreat across the Marne being necessary. As it 
was, his movement to the right played into the 
hands of Napoleon, whose design was to cut him 
from Yorck. Sacken had much to be thankful for 
that he effected an almost miraculous escape in 
the end. Muffling says he had only a forest road 
by which to reach Yorck, and that he only got his 
artillery along by hitching on cavalry horses. 
He owed the possibility of escape mainly to 
Yorck's timely intervention on Napoleon's right. 
On the other hand, Yorck might perhaps have 
done more towards helping Sacken. Had they 

The First Pursuit of Bliicher 75 

united in time to meet Napoleon they would have 
had a great advantage in numbers. Bliicher did 
nothing against Marmont on the nth or 12th 
February, which seems difficult to explain, except 
on the ground of his want of cavalry, of which he 
only got 800 on the 12th and 2000 more on the 
13th. His advance on the latter date was due to 
his belief that Marmont was merely the rearguard 
of Napoleon's march by Sezanne to the Seine. 
He, too, was very fortunate in escaping at 
Vauchamps, an escape which was probably due 
mainly to Grouchy 's being unable to bring up his 
artillery, and perhaps to some slackness in the 
French infantry pressure on his front. Kapze- 
witch certainly made matters worse by his un- 
warranted order to Udom to retreat from La 
Grande Laye on Etoges. Had Grouchy found 
Udom's 1500 men in the wood, instead of only a 
few skirmishers on its edge, he would have been 
greatly hampered in his attack on Kleist. 

Napoleon's movement against Bliicher was a 
brilliant success, but by no means so complete as 
he hoped for. He started with the hope of 
annihilating the army of Silesia before returning 
to the Seine. He had inflicted losses on it 
amounting to between one-fourth and one-third of 
its strength, but he had certainly not annihilated 
it. When it had been two days (i6th-i8th 
February) at Chalons, and been reinforced by 
6000 Russian infantry, 2000 of Korffs cavalry 
and other bodies, it was ready to march again, 
53,000 strong, as if it had never been defeated 
at all. 

Bliicher was always hopeful and plucky. On 
the 13th, before Vauchamps, he wrote to his wife, 

76 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

in a letter full of misspellings, " I have had a 
bitter three days. Napoleon has attacked me 
three times in the three days with his whole 
strength and all his Guard, but has not gained his 
object, and to-day he is in retreat on Paris. To- 
morrow I follow him, then our army will unite, 
and in front of Paris a great battle will decide all. 
Don't be afraid that we shall be beaten ; unless 
some unheard-of mistake occurs, that is not 
possible." * 

* Janson, I., note 139 (at end of volume). 



IT was high time, when Napoleon had de- 
feated Blticher at Vauchamps, for him to 
hurry to the assistance of his containing 
force on the Seine. 

Schwarzenberg had only resumed his advance 
from Troyes on the ioth February, the day of 
Olsufiew's disaster. 

Wittgenstein and Wrede moved against 
Nogent and Bray. Wlirtemberg was to move on 
Sens, with Bianchi * on his left. These two 
were to be supported by Gyulai, whilst the 
Guards and Reserves moved towards Mery in 
support of the two corps on the right 

Next day Victor retired behind the Seine, 
leaving only a rearguard on the left bank at 
Nogent. Wurtemberg drove Allix out of Sens 
and across the Seine at Montereau. 

During the succeeding days the Austrians of 
Bianchi pushed as far forward as the Loing, and 
even to Fontainebleau. Victor's rearguard made 
a good fight at Nogent on the 12th, but even- 
tually crossed the river and destroyed the bridge. 
Schwarzenberg, now hearing of Olsufiew's defeat, 
sent Diebitsch with cavalry to take the place of 
connecting link with Blticher lately occupied by 
Seslawin. Barclay's Guards were to concentrate 
at Mery. 

* Now commanding the I corps vice Colloredo wounded. 

78 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

Wittgenstein and Wrede now got across the 
Seine, thanks to Wrede's capture of Bray from 
its weak garrison of National Guards, which was 
the event that compelled Victor to retire and 
blow up the Nogent bridge. 

When Wrede was across at Bray, he came 
into collision with Oudinot, whom he failed to 
defeat on the 13th. Oudinot and Victor, how- 
ever, retired in the night to Nangis. The former, 
who had sent Leval's veterans to Napoleon, had 
urgently demanded reinforcements. To this 
demand Napoleon had responded by his order of 
the 13th, directing Macdonald on Montereau. * 
That marshal now, thanks to reinforcements from 
Paris, at the head of 12,000 men, reached 
Guignes on the evening of the 14th. On the 
15th the general line of French defence was the 
river Yeres. A glance at the map will show how 
painfully near that was to Paris ; indeed, the 
capital had already been panic-stricken by a 
mistaken order which resulted in the trains going 
behind the Marne close to Paris. 

It will be remembered that Caulaincourt had 
been summoned to the Congress of Chatillon-sur- 
Seine on the 3rd February. The allies, flushed 
with the victory of La Rothiere, had raised their 
terms, and now insisted on the confinement of 
France within her frontiers of 1789. Indeed, the 
Tsar appears to have told Lord Castlereagh that 
he would not make peace whilst Napoleon 
remained on the throne. The negotiations, after 
a great deal of fencing, the details of which are 
foreign to this history, were suspended on the 
10th February. 

* Sufira, p. 67. 

Napoleon Returns to the Seine 79 

The news of Vauchamps and the other 
defeats of the army of Silesia induced even the 
Tsar to consider matters in a different light, 
whilst Napoleon was encouraged to hope for the 
terms of Frankfort at least. The Congress even- 
tually resumed its sittings on the 1 7th February. 
Napoleon had other matters to consider besides 
the army of Bohemia, against which he was now 
about to march, and that of Silesia which he 
erroneously believed to be crippled for some time 
at least. 

Winzingerode had at last dragged his corps 
forward as far as Soissons, which was stormed 
on the 14th, but relinquished at once when 
Winzingerode marched by Epernay to Reims. 

Blilow also, the Emperor learned, showed 
signs of marching southwards. 

Accordingly, Napoleon sent orders to Maison 
in the Netherlands to avoid locking up his army 
in the fortresses, so as to be able with it in the 
open field to keep Blilow there. Mortier was 
to fix his line of operations on the Paris-Soissons 
road, so as to be prepared to meet an advance 
by Winzingerode or Blilow. Marmont was to 
keep Bllicher back towards Chalons, and only to 
retreat slowly on Montmirail and Sezanne if 
seriously threatened. 

The Emperor's optimism had been so 
stimulated by his successes that he now again 
contemplated the possibility of retaining his hold 
on Italy, and urged Eugene to activity. 

Lastly, he now saw his way to alarming 
Schwarzenberg for his communications, by using 
Augereau's forces in the south against Bubna and 
Hessen Homburg who guarded the left rear of 

80 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

the army of Bohemia. Augereau was now at 
the head of some 27,000 men towards Lyons. 
Of these about 12,000 were excellent troops, 
mostly drawn from Suchet's army. The rest 
were National Guards and other troops of smaller 
value. Napoleon urged Augereau to go straight 
for Hessen Homburg by Macon and Chalons-sur- 
Saone. We shall see presently that this threat 
had important consequences, though Augereau's 
conduct was generally feeble. He appears never 
to have made up his mind " to pull on his boots 
°f I 793" as Napoleon, in his vigorous letter of 
the 2 1 st February, urged him to do.* 

Such was the general situation in France 
during the few days succeeding Vauchamps. 

Napoleon was at La Ferte-sous-Jouarre on 
the 15th February, at Guignes on the evening of 
the 1 6th, bringing with him at express speed all 
the troops he had, except those left behind with 
Mortier and Marmont. f 

Orders issued at 1 a.m. on the 17th for 
an immediate general advance against Schwar- 

That commander was now completely un- 
nerved by the news of Bllicher' s disasters. The 
first view held at a council of war at Nogent had 
been that Bllicher was being pursued towards 
Chalons by Napoleon, and that the best thing to 
be done was to move Wittgenstein and Wrede 
by Sezanne against the Emperor's rear, in order 
to relieve the pressure on Bllicher, and at the 
same time to cover the retreat of the army of 
Bohemia, and its concentration on Arcis-sur- 
Aube and Troyes. Before that movement had 
* Corr. 21,343. t Positions evening of 16th. Map II (j). 

Napoleon Returns to the Seine 81 

really begun came news from Bliicher that, after 
Vauchamps, Napoleon had fallen back, and was 
apparently moving against the army of Bohemia. 
The only thought now was how to get the army 
back behind the Seine and the Yonne, under the 
covering protection of Wrede, Wittgenstein, and 
Barclay. Schwarzenberg's great idea was always 
to have a considerable river between himself and 
the dreaded enemy. Wittgenstein, as it was, 
had advanced a good deal farther than Schwar- 
zenberg liked ; for Pahlen with his advanced 
guard was at and beyond Mormant, close up to 
the front of the marshals, now about to be joined 
by the Emperor. 

Wittgenstein was ordered to fall back on the 
17th on Provins ; Wrede to hold fast at Donne- 
marie, with an advanced guard towards Nangis 
keeping him in touch with Wittgenstein. Bray 
was indicated as the line of retreat of both corps. 
Barclay with the Russo- Prussian Guards and 
Reserves to assemble between Nogent and Pont- 

Diebitsch had already been sent with cavalry 
to Montmirail, into the position lately occupied 
by Seslawin, who was now far away on the left, 
nearly up to the gates of Orleans. Wiirtem- 
berg and Bianchi were about Montereau, Gyulai 
at Pont-sur- Yonne, the Austrian reserves at 
Sens, and there were advanced guards towards 
Melun on the right bank of the Seine, at 
Fontainebleau, and Platow was at Nemours. 
It was necessary to hold the passage of the Seine 
and Yonne at Montereau, in order to cover the 
retreat of the corps on the left of the Bohemian 


82 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

On the morning of the 17th Pahlen was 
attacked at Mormant by Gerard, leading Napo- 
leon's advance, and outflanked on both wings by 
French cavalry. He was badly beaten, with a 
loss of 2000 men and 10 guns as he retreated. 
At Nangis Wrede's advanced guard was driven 
back with heavy loss till it met a Bavarian brigade 
at Villeneuve-le-Comte. At Nangis Napoleon 
divided his pursuit, sending Victor with the II 
corps, Gerard's Reserve of Paris, and L'Heri tier's 
and Bordessoulle's cavalry to seize the passage at 
Montereau. Oudinot on the left, with the VII 
corps and Kellermann's cavalry, followed Witt- 
genstein towards Provins. Macdonald, with the 
XI corps and two cavalry divisions, was the 
centre, with the Guard in reserve. Victor again 
attacked Wrede's advanced guard near Villeneuve 
(action of Valjouan), and drove it back on the 
main body of Wrede, who crossed the Seine at 
Bray during the night. Napoleon was furious 
that Victor did not press on to Montereau that 
evening. Pajol, during this day, advanced with 
his cavalry, and Pacthod's National Guards, 
driving Wurtemberg's advanced guard back 
along the Melun-Montereau road to within five 
miles of the latter place. Charpentier and Allix 
were on the road to Fontainebleau from Melun. 

The only really important fighting on the 
1 8th took place at Montereau which, after several 
rather contradictory orders from Schwarzenberg, 
Wurtemberg was told to hold at any rate till the 
night of the 18th.* 

When Oudinot advanced that evening, Witt- 
genstein had passed at Nogent, and Wrede was 
* Map II (k). 


Napoleon Returns to the Seine 83 

across at Bray, all but a rearguard left at the 
defile of Mouy. Victor's orders were to be at 
Montereau by 6 a.m. 

The passage of the Seine at Montereau was 
by a bridge which reached the left bank just 
above the inflow of the Yonne, over which also 
there was a bridge. The right bank of the Seine 
here commands the left, as one sees in passing by 
train from Dijon to Paris. The left bank is 
quite flat about Montereau, the right rises steeply 
150 or 200 feet above the river, falling again 
towards the north. 

The Crown Prince placed on the right bank 
about 8500 infantry, 1000 cavalry, and 26 guns. 
His left was in Villaron (Les Ormeaux) and the 
vineyards about it across the road to Paris, the 
centre held the chateau and park of Surville, and 
the plateau in front, the right extended to the 
road to Salins and the chateau of Courbeton. 
On the left bank of the Seine he had two 
Austrian batteries, one supporting each wing. 
In the eastern suburb of Montereau, and behind 
at the farm of Motteux, was the remaining 
brigade of the IV corps. Bianchi, who was 
retiring by Pont-sur- Yonne, had left one brigade 
and the two batteries above mentioned, to help 
the Crown Prince. 

Pajol was the first of the French to come 
up about 8 a.m. by the Paris road with 1500 
cavalry, 3000 National Guards (Pacthod) and 
800 gendarmes from Spain. The cavalry was 
almost untrained, and Pacthod's men only very 
indifferently equipped and trained. Pajol was 
unable with his feeble troops to make any 
progress. At 9 a.m. Victor's leading troops 

84 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

failed in an attack on the enemy's left. It was 
not renewed, and all efforts were now con- 
centrated on Villaron which covered the enemy's 
line of retreat. 

Then there arrived Duhesme's division and 
General Chataux's. Both these were driven 
back from Villaron, and Chataux was mortally 
wounded. The Wiirtemberg cavalry made a 
vigorous counter attack, driving the French 
cavalry back to the woods. At 1 1 a.m. Victor, 
unable to make headway, was waiting for the 
arrival of Gdrard. Victor was now superseded 
in command of the II corps by Gerard, as a 
mark of the Emperor's displeasure at his slowness 
on the previous day. 

It was 3 p.m. when Napoleon reached the 
field with the Guard. A fresh attack was now 
organized in four columns, of which three moved 
on Villaron and Surville, the fourth by the valley 
of the Seine against the allied right. Pajol's 
troops again moved forward against the left of 
Villaron. The Guard was in reserve. A heavy 
artillery fire was poured on the Surville chateau. 
Villaron was at last taken and Pajol fell upon the 
Wurtembergers' left with his cavalry, just as the 
Crown Prince was commencing a retreat, which 
he saw to be inevitable in face of the 30,000 
men and 70 guns now opposed to his small force. 

Schaefer's brigade, in the park of Surville, 
was ordered to cover the retreat by the bridge, 
but the chateau was stormed and its defenders 
captured. The retreat now degenerated into a 
wild flight down the steep slopes towards the 
bridge. Pajol, charging along the main road, 
crossed the bridge over the Seine along with the 

Napoleon Returns to the Seine 85 

fugitives, sabring them right and left, continuing 
over the Yonne bridge, and clearing Montereau 
completely of the enemy. The debris of the 
defeated brigades fell back on that of Hohenlohe, 
and the whole retired in confusion on La Tombe, 
covered by Jett's cavalry of Hohenlohe's brigade. 

The battle of Montereau was a severe defeat 
for the allies, who lost nearly 5000 men, 3400 of 
them being prisoners, and 15 guns. Moreover, 
it gave Napoleon the important bridges over 
the Seine and Yonne. For this he was mainly 
indebted to the magnificent energy of Pajol's 
last charge which converted the allied retreat 
into a rout, and left the enemy no time to blow 
up the bridges. Pajol was so badly wounded 
that he could take no further part in the war. 

The Crown Prince and his troops made a 
gallant effort to resist overwhelming forces, which 
they kept in check for many hours ; but their 
position, with the river spanned by only one 
bridge at their back, was one in which defeat 
was almost sure to be followed by disaster. 
They would probably have done the Emperor 
more harm by retreating at once and effectually 
blowing up the Seine bridge, but Schwarzenberg's 
orders forbade this course. On this day the 
French reached the Seine at Nogent and Bray, 
but found the bridges destroyed at both places, 
which made the Montereau bridge of supreme im- 
portance, for Napoleon had no bridging equipment 
as yet. On the allied left the Austrian troops on 
and beyond the Loing fell back before Allix and 
Charpentier. When Montereau was taken, their 
position became very dangerous, and it was only 
by pretended negotiations with AHix that they 

86 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

gained time to retreat south-eastwards to rejoin 
the remains of the brigade which Bianchi had 
left behind at Montereau, and which had been 
forced up the left bank of the Yonne to Serotin. 
On the extreme left, Seslawin, who was before 
Orleans, was once more ordered back to the 
opposite flank, to replace Diebitsch who crossed 
to the left bank of the Aube at Plancy. 

Even before he was aware of what was 
happening at Montereau, Schwarzenberg had 
issued orders for a general retreat on Troyes, 
alleging as his object the avoidance of partial 
combats of isolated corps, and concentration for 
battle about Troyes. When he received news of 
the defeat at Montereau, he ordered Wrede, 
whom he reinforced with a Russian cuirassier 
division, to hold fast at Bray till the evening of 
the 19th. At 3 a.m. on the 19th he wrote to 
Blucher saying that, owing to the loss of 
Montereau, he was obliged to hurry his retreat 
on Troyes, whence he proposed to resume the 
offensive. But for this purpose he depended 
on Blucher's joining Wittgenstein at Me>y by 
the 2 1 st. Blucher's answer, which reached 
Schwarzenberg in the evening of the 19th, 
promised that he would be there on the date 
named with 53,000 men and 300 guns. 

Napoleon, finding it doubtful when he would 
be able to pass the Seine at Bray and Nogent, at 
first began to send everything by Montereau, 
except Gerard * who was to pass at Pont-sur- 

* Gerard's new command (II corps) now consisted of Duhesme's 
division and the two divisions (Dufour and Hamelinaye) of Reserve 
of Paris. Victor was restored to favour and given command of two 
newly formed Young Guard divisions (Charpentier and Boyer de 

Napoleon Returns to the Seine 87 

Seine when he could restore the bridge. After- 
wards, when Macdonald, on Wrede's retreat, was 
able partially to restore the bridge at Bray, 
Oudinot, Kellermann, and Nansouty were sent 
across there, followed by Ney and the Old Guard. 
Macdonald also was to cross there. 

We need not follow in detail the movements of 
both sides in the next day or two, for Napoleon 
had practically lost contact with the army of 

By the evening of the 20th Blucher was about 
Arcis-sur-Aube, where he received an urgent 
order from Schwarzenberg to join Wittgenstein 
who was on both banks of the Seine at Mery. 
Bliicher's first idea, when he left Chalons with his 
rapidly reorganized and reinforced army on the 
1 8th, had been a fresh westward march, but, in 
reply to Schwarzenberg's call, he at once prepared 
on the 19th for the move on Mery. 

It appears clear that when Schwarzenberg 
urged Blucher to an immediate junction with 
Wittgenstein, and explained how in a battle in 
the direction of Mery they could be supported by 
Wrede and Barclay moving against the French 
right, he still firmly intended fighting a battle on 
the 21st or 22nd. In the night of the 20th his 
views were suddenly changed by a report from 
the Prince of Hessen Homburg giving alarming 
news of the advance of Augereau against 
Chalons-sur-Saone and Besangon, and of Dessaix 
and Marchand from Savoy against Geneva. In 
consequence of this, Bianchi was ordered to make 
forced marches by Chatillon to Dijon, taking 
with him the I corps and his own former division 
of Austrian reserves, to which more troops were 


88 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

added. By these measures the forces of the 
army of Bohemia against Napoleon would be 
reduced to about 90,000 men. Blucher had 
about 50,000, making altogether about 140,000 
against the 75,000 of Napoleon.* 

It was quite clear that Schwarzenberg must 
make up his mind either to fight a decisive battle 
with Napoleon, or to continue his retreat at 
once. The poor country in which he now was,f 
exhausted by the passage and repassage of 
armies, was quite incapable of supporting the 
great forces of the allies, who were already 
suffering much from hunger, bad clothing, and 
weather which was alternately snowy or rainy. 
In such circumstances, there could be no ques- 
tion of a defensive aiming at wearing out the 

On the other hand, Schwarzenberg found it 
difficult to make up his mind to fight. He had 
little short of 150,000 men, including Bluchers 
army, and Napoleon had about half that number. 
But defeat at the hands of the dreaded enemy 
was always possible, and the Emperor's numbers 
were greatly exaggerated in the reports,J and 
in the imagination of Schwarzenberg. The 
Austrian could not get out of his head the 
incalculable results of defeat, with his retreat 
threatened by Augereau from the south. He 
had really made up his mind to retreat on 

* That is the number under the Emperor's immediate control, 
exclusive of Allix's detachment on his right, and of Mortier and 
Marmont on his left. 

fit is known as "Champagne Pouilleuse" — "Barren 

% Seslawin, on the 21st, reported that Napoleon had 82 
regiments of cavalry and altogether 180,000 men! Seslawin was 
ipoked upon at headquarters as very reliable. 

Napoleon Returns to the Seine 89 

Chaumont, perhaps on the plateau of Langres, 
but he dared not say so plainly in face of the 
views of the Tsar and the King of Prussia, at 
least until he had made some show of more 
energy. He accordingly issued orders for a 
general reconnaissance on the 22nd, by cavalry 
supported by infantry, all along his front. This 
he said was required to procure definite in- 
formation as to the enemy's movements. The 
reconnaissance was only to commence at noon, 
and long before that hour Napoleon's advance 
put it out of the question. That morning 
Kellermann's cavalry drove back Pahlen from 
Megrigny. When Oudinot's infantry came up, 
the part of Mery on the left bank of the Seine 
was stormed, and the part beyond the river was 
also temporarily occupied by a brigade which, 
however, was driven out again. The Emperor, 
arriving at this juncture, quickly recognized the 
presence of the whole army of Silesia. He was 
now in contact with the allies all along his front, 
from Mery to in front of Troyes. Apparently a 
battle was imminent, and the Emperor proposed 
to attack the army of Bohemia with the bulk of 
his army whilst, with a small force of his veterans 
from Spain, he held Blucher at Mery, preventing 
his passage of the Aube and interference with 
the French left and rear. 

During the day Wrede's cavalry was driven 
back by Milhaud on Oudinot's right, and there 
were also French cavalry successes against the 
allied left towards Villeneuve l'Archeveque. 

That night Schwarzenberg issued orders for 
retreat behind the Seine, except in the case of 
the III corps which would follow the left bank 

90 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

to Bar-sur- Seine. Wrede would cover the 
retreat by holding Troyes till the 24th with 
one division. 

In the morning of the 23rd, before the 
sovereigns and Schwarzenberg started for Vend- 
ceuvre, a council was held. It was decided 
to send Prince Lichtenstein to propose an 
armistice, for which overtures had already been 
made to, but not accepted by, Napoleon. Lich- 
tenstein seems to have told the Emperor a good 
deal more than was desirable as to the difficulties 
of the allied army, but Napoleon was fully alive 
to the risks of a battle with his great inferiority 
of numbers. In the end, he sent Lichtenstein 
back with a promise that an officer would be sent 
next day to negotiate an armistice. He quite 
saw through the allies' desire to hold him back by 
negotiations, as well as by the show of defence of 
the Seine on the 23rd. He had already on the 
21st made another attempt to detach Austria from 
the alliance, by writing to his father-in-law a 
letter in which he definitely proposed peace on 
the terms offered from Frankfort.* His views of 
the military situation on the 23rd are stated 
in a letter to Joseph.t He would, he said, be 
in Troyes in two hours. The allies were retiring 
on Vendceuvre, whither Bliicher's forces were 
also making, leaving nothing in front of Marmont 
towards Sezanne. It was desirable, therefore, 
that Mortier should return to Chateau-Thierry, so 
as to set Marmont free to act with the Emperor. 
Napoleon was wrong as to Troyes ; for, owing to 
Wrede's resistance and threat to fire the town, 
it was only at 6 a.m. on the 24th that the French 

* Corn 21,344. t Corr. 21,356, 23rd February, 2 p.m. 

Napoleon Returns to the Seine 91 

entered. He was also wrong as to Bliicher, 
for that commander had sent Grolmann, on the 
22nd, to try and persuade Schwarzenberg to fight. 
If he failed in that, he was to propose a 
fresh separation of the armies, with the object 
of Bluchers uniting with Winzingerode from 
Reims, and Biilow, now marching from Belgium. 
To the latter course the Austrian agreed, though 
he soon repented of having done so. But it was 
then too late. Schwarzenberg's view was that 
Bliicher should operate, when reinforced, against 
Napoleon's rear, so as to draw him away from the 
pursuit towards Langres. Bliicher's views were 
quite different, and contemplated his own advance 
on Paris with the 100,000 men he would have 
when joined by Winzingerode and Biilow. 

As promised by the Emperor, Flahault was 
sent next day to carry on negotiations for an 
armistice, but his instructions required insistence 
on preliminary conditions, amongst them the 
acceptance of the conditions of peace offered at 
Frankfort, which foredoomed the negotiations to 

The fact is that Napoleon was at this time 
suffering from an attack of the optimistic illusions 
which so often, in these later years, blinded him 
to actual facts. He painted his own situation in 
the rosiest, that of the enemy in the darkest of 
colours. He pictured to himself an enemy 
routed and retreating in the wildest disorder, 
which was very far from being the case. When 
Wrede threatened to burn Troyes if the French 
tried to storm it before the morning of the 24th, 
Napoleon, according to de Segur, remarked, 
" Such affronts deserve to be washed out in 

92 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

blood. I will make the allies repent of their 
violence. They shall see that I am nearer to 
their capitals than they to mine." Such vain 
boasts were unknown in earlier days. Then he 
only uttered threats on a well-weighed apprecia- 
tion of actual facts ; now he spoke hastily on 
presumptions and insufficient grounds. Formerly 
when he prophesied the course of military events 
he was rarely wrong ; now his hasty prophecies 
were more often falsified than verified. He had 
recently avowed that Bllicher had been destroyed ; 
yet now the old marshal again faced him, as 
strong as ever. On the 24th he wrote to Joseph,* 
" Terror reigns in the ranks of the allies. A few 
days ago they believed I had no army ; to-day 
there is nothing at which their imagination sticks ; 
300,000 or 400,000 men is not enough for them. 
They believed just now that I had nothing but 
recruits ; to-day they say I have assembled all 
my veterans, and that I bring against them 
nothing but picked armies, that the French army 
is better than ever, etc., . . . such is their terror." 
It is true that this was written for the benefit of 
Joseph and Paris, but it indicates the Emperor's 
frame of mind, and the little likelihood of his 
being prepared to negotiate in earnest. 

An hour after Napoleon entered Troyes it was 
clear that the main body of Schwarzenberg's army 
was making for Bar-sur-Aube by Vendceuvre ; 
one column was moving by Piney, and another by 
the left bank of the Seine on Bar-sur-Seine. Of 
Bliicher there was no news. 

Orders for the pursuit issued at once. 

Gerard was to lead on the road to Vendceuvre 

• Corr. 21,36c?. 

Napoleon Returns to the Seine 93 

with the II corps and a strong cavalry force. 
Behind him was Oudinot, and Ney was to go as 
far as La Guillotiere, in case he was required. 

Macdonald, with the XI corps and Keller- 
mann's and Milhaud's cavalry, was detailed 
to follow by the left bank of the Seine. 

The rest of the army was moved up towards 
Troyes, except Bordessoulle, who was to try and 
communicate with Marmont from Anglure. 

Napoleon committed himself to the statement 
that the whole of Bluchers force had crossed the 
Aube in order to join Schwarzenberg by a march 
along its right bank. That was merely an 
assumption, and quite a wrong one. It was 
proved to be so by the receipt of news from 
Pierre Boyer that, before he left Mery, he had 
seen Bliicher moving in the opposite direction 
towards the lower Aube. That brought Napoleon 
back to Troyes with the Guard cavalry ; for the 
movement seemed to aim at his communications. 

The general arrangement of Napoleon's army 
on the night of the 24th was this.* He had two 
strong advanced guards (Gerard and Macdonald) 
following the enemy on both banks of the Seine. 
Marmont and Bordessoulle were charged with the 
watch of Bliicher. The main body of the army, 
about Troyes, formed a central reserve which 
could be sent in any direction required. By 
evening Gerard had got to between Lusigny 
and Vendceuvre after some fighting. Macdonald 
was at St. Parre les Vaudes, with cavalry 
towards Bar-sur-Seine. Marmont had started 
from Sezanne in order, as he says,"j" to approach 
the Aube, to support himself by the river, and to 
* Map II (1). f 1Mb. VI. 197. 

94 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

keep in touch with the Emperor. At Pleurs he 
met Russian cavalry, and ascertained that Bliicher 
had already crossed to the right bank of the 
Aube by his bridges at Plancy and Baudemont. 
Finding himself with only 6000 men in front of 
Bliicher, Marmont returned to Sezanne in the 
evening, and took post on the heights behind it. 
Bordessoulle also as he began, in accordance with 
Napoleon's orders, his advance on Anglure and 
Plancy, found the enemy in force at Marcilly, and 
fell back. 

Bliicher's army that night (24th) was spread 
along both banks of the Aube, from Plancy to its 

As we know, P. Boyer had reported Bliicher's 
move down the Aube. The question for Napoleon 
was what this meant. Was Bliicher moving 
towards Paris ? was he retreating on Chalons ? 
or was he going to move up the right bank of the 
Aube to rejoin Schwarzenberg ? The latter alter- 
native certainly seemed unlikely, for why should 
Bliicher move down the Aube when he intended to 
move up again by the opposite bank ? If that was 
his intention, he could have crossed at Plancy 
and Arcis. The Emperor could not be sure 
regarding the other two alternatives till he heard 
from Bordessoulle and Marmont, from neither 
of whom had he received any report at 3 a.m. on 
the 25th when he had to issue orders for the day. 
Yet, we would point out that it should hardly 
have seemed likely that Bliicher was going to 
Chalons ; for, in that case, surely he would have 
crossed at Arcis, or, if he was afraid of being 
anticipated there, at least at Plancy, which was 
nearer the main direct road. If he was going for 

Napoleon Returns to the Seine 95 

Paris, he might do so either by Anglure and 
Nogent-sur-Seine, or by Sezanne and Means. 
Napoleon must, therefore, have advanced guards 
on both roads. For the former, Arrighi s division, 
still at Nogent, would serve ; on the latter 
was Marmont. As for a possible move on 
either Chalons or Bar-sur-Aube, Ney could be 
sent to Arcis to look out for Bliicher. 
Orders therefore issued at 4.30 a.m. 

(1) Ney and Corbineau's Guard cavalry on 

(2) Victor and P. Boyer to return to Mery, 
seeking news of Bliicher and communicating with 
Arrighi at Nogent and Watier's cavalry at 
Romilly. If Nogent was seriously threatened, 
P. Boyer was to go there and support Arrighi. 



NAPOLEON could not afford to let 
Blucher get a long start, if he really 
intended marching on Paris, an inten- 
tion with which the Emperor was 
reluctant to credit him. He doubtless thought 
that Blucher would be deterred from such a march 
by the recollection of the disasters he had incurred 
when he had attempted it early in February. 
But it is curious how very long it took to convince 
Napoleon of the truth. His attitude appears to 
have been another example of his growing habit 
of regarding facts less than assumptions, and of 
obstinately adhering to what he had already 
assumed as probable, until reports finally showed 
that he was wrong beyond doubt. Still, on this 
occasion, he recognized the possibility of Bliicher' s 
march on Paris and took precautions accordingly. 
It was only when these orders had issued 
that he directed Oudinot and Macdonald to push 
the army of Bohemia back to Vendceuvre and 
Bar-sur-Seine respectively. Macdonald was to 
send Jacquinot's cavalry division and Kellermann's 
cavalry corps to Oudinot, who would thus have 
two infantry corps (II and VII) and the equiva- 
lent of two cavalry corps, whilst Macdonald was 
left with the XI corps and the 5 th cavalry corps. 
That evening (25th) Oudinot, now at Vend- 
ceuvre and Magny Fouchard, reported the 

The Second Pursuit of Bliicher 97 

enemy on the line Dolancourt-Spoy. Macdonald, 
from Bar-sur-Seine, reported 20,000 of the enemy 
(Bianchi, no doubt) retreating by Chaource on 
Tonnerre, 7000 or 8000 (III corps probably) 
on Chatillon, and several thousand cavalry going 
towards Vendceuvre. 

Even at 4.30 p.m., when the Emperor received 
Bordessoulle's and Marmont's reports of the 
previous day, and heard from Ney that the Arcis 
bridge was destroyed and hostile cavalry beyond 
it, he doubted as to the direction Bliicher was 
taking. He ordered Victor to cross the Seine at 
Mery. Marmont at the same hour had no doubts 
as to Bliicher ; for the advance of the army of 
Silesia had compelled him to retire to La Ferte- 
Gaucher, whence he wrote to Mortier, begging 
him to bring his force to La Ferte-sous-Jouarre. 
When the two marshals could unite there next 
day, they would only have about 10,000 men, a 
force quite incapable of even seriously delaying 
Bliicher. Bordessoulle had found himself barred 
from joining Marmont by a strong screen of 

At 4.30 a.m. on the 26th, Napoleon sent P. 
Boyer to join Ney, and ordered Victor to hold 
fast at Mery. Soon after noon he received 
reports of the 25th from Marmont and Bordes- 
soulle ; but even then he did not feel sure about 
Bliicher; for, at 2.30 p.m., he wrote to Ney that 
the Prussian was said to be still about Baudemont. 
He ordered Ney to cross at Arcis, to look for 
Bliicher, and fall on his rear. He had also ordered 
up Roussel d'Urbal's cavalry, from near Troyes, 
to join Ney. That marshal, meanwhile, crossed 
when he had repaired the Arcis bridge, and sent 


98 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

reconnaissances in all directions, as soon as he was 
reinforced by P. Boyer and R. d'Urbal. * 

Napoleon had, in the morning, sent orders to 
Oudinot to follow Schwarzenberg on Bar-sur- 
Aube, and to Macdonald to push on to Chatillon. 
Oudinot, during the day, forced the bridge at 
Dolancourt, and, moving up the right bank of the 
Aube, drove the allies from Bar-sur-Aube. For 
the night he took up a very faulty position on 
both sides of the Aube which we will describe 
later, when we return to Oudinot whom we shall 
now leave. 

Macdonald got as far as Mussy-sur-Seine. 

By 5 p.m. on this day (26th) Napoleon had 
come to the conclusion that Blucher was moving 
on Suzanne at any rate. Ney was told to threaten 
Bluchers bridges on the lower Aube, if they were 
still in place. If they were gone, Ney would 
press on Bliicher's rear to relieve Marmont. 
Arrighi and Bordessoulle were to co-operate with 
Ney on the right bank of the Seine. Blucher 
was on no account to be allowed to establish 
himself at Sezanne. At 8 p.m. Marmont was 
ordered to unite with Mortier, and told that 
Arrighi and Bordessoulle would support him 
" when he attacked the enemy." f 

Napoleon still scarcely believed in Bliicher's 
march on Paris ; for he tells Ney that it is "quite 
evident that when Blucher has no longer any 
bridges on the Aube, and sees a corps between 
him and Vitry, he will abandon all his operations, 
if indeed he has any beyond regaining Chalons." 
His orders aimed at the envelopment of Blucher 

* Positions evening of 26th. Map II (m). 

f For these orders see correspondence of the day. 

The Second Pursuit of Bliicher 99 

by Marmont and Mortier on the west, by Arrighi 
and Bordessoulle on the south, and by Victor and 
Ney on the east. Nevertheless, Bliicher's march 
on Paris was already in full swing. He had 
forced Marmont to retreat on Mortier at La Ferte- 
sous-Jouarre, and had his own troops spread over 
the country between that place and Sezanne. 
Marmont had sent on Ricard's division to hold 
the bridge at Trilport, by which he and Mortier 
proposed to reach Meaux next day. 

When the Emperor got up at 2.30 a.m. on 
the 27th to issue his orders for the day, he was 
still in the dark as regards Bliicher. M Every- 
thing," he wrote to Berthier at 3.30, "leads me 
to believe that Bliicher has already removed his 
bridges on the Aube and is making for Sezanne, 
so as to get astride of the Vitry road." Ney and 
Victor, the latter crossing at Plancy, were to 
follow Bliicher in right flank and rear, Arrighi and 
Bordessoulle against his left flank by Villenauxe. 

At last, at 7 a.m., Marmont's report, dated 
thirteen hours earlier, removed all doubt as to 
Bluchers real direction. There was not a moment 
to be lost, for the army of Silesia had already 
gained three days' start, and the two marshals 
could not be expected to delay it much. 

Ney, with Arrighi and Bordessoulle also under 
him, was to follow Bliicher towards Sezanne. 
Marmont was informed via Meaux, and it was to 
be bruited about so as to reach Bliicher's ears, 
that the Emperor was in hot pursuit with the 
whole of the Guard. Napoleon said that he 
hoped to be across the Vitry road on the 28th, 
to dispose of the army of Silesia in three days, 
and then to return against that of Bohemia. 

ioo Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

Arrighi and Bordessoulle were to march on 
Villenauxe, unless they found Bliicher's bridges 
still standing and the enemy in force on the lower 
Aube, in which case they would move up the 
river to meet Victor and Ney. Napoleon still 
seemed to have some hope that he might find 
Bliicher lingering on the Aube. 

Troyes was now left to the care of Sebastiani 
with an infantry brigade, and 500 cavalry to be 
sent back by Macdonald. The whole of the 
Guard was started for Arcis. 

These orders being issued, others were 
required for the force left behind to contain 
Schwarzenberg. The command of the whole was 
given to Macdonald, thus avoiding a repetition of 
the mistake of the beginning of February in 
leaving several independent commanders. 

Macdonald was to take up a good position 
behind the Aube, holding Bar-sur-Aube with a 
strong rearguard. He was to be prepared to 
blow up the Dolancourt bridge, but to avoid 
doing so till the last moment, so as not to reveal 
the fact of the Emperor's departure. Everything 
was to be done to make Schwarzenberg believe 
Napoleon was still facing him. Quarters for the 
Emperor were to be prepared at Bar ; the troops 
were to shout " Vive l'Empereur " ; even Caulain- 
court was to say his master was at Bar, and to 
send his couriers through that place. Napoleon 
was fully aware of the terrorizing effect of his own 
presence. He had recently said, " I have 50,000 
men and myself; that makes 150,000."* 

* Houssaye (p. 115) quotes Danilewski's report of Napoleon's 
conversation with Poltoratzki after Champaubert as containing 
these words. He gives the reference to Danilewski I. 102 ; but 

The Second Pursuit of Blucher 101 

The Emperor's army was now generally 
disposed thus : 

(i) Containing Schwarzenberg. Macdonald 
and Oudinot with the II, VII and XI corps, and 
the 2nd, 5th and 6th cavalry corps, besides Allix's 
detachment — about 42,000 in all. 

(2) Marmont and Mortier towards Meaux, 
about 10,000 men. 

(3) Marching against Bliicher's rear from 
Nogent, Troyes, Arcis, and Plancy under the 
Emperor's personal command — about 35,000 men. 
By evening on the 27th Napoleon had about 
30,000 men collected in the area Gourganson, 
Semoine, Salon, Herbisse, with cavalry at Pleurs 
and GEuvy. Headquarters Herbisse. 

Arrighi and Bordessoulle were about Villen- 
auxe. The latter had attempted to advance, 
but had to desist in face of Bliicher's superior 

Napoleon's projects for the 28th are stated in 
a letter to Joseph.* Sleeping at Herbisse, he 
would be at Fere-Champenoise by 9 a.m. 
Thence, according to circumstances, he would 
march on Sezanne and La Ferte-Gaucher, where 
he would be close on Bliicher's rear. Marmont 
and Mortier were to be ordered to press Blucher, 
so as to prevent that general from sending his 
whole force against Napoleon. 

The two marshals started on the morning of 
the 27th from La Ferte-sous-Jouarre, after de- 
stroying the bridge there. They got across the 
Marne at Trilport, where Mortier turned towards 

the author has been unable to find the remark in either the 
English or the German translation. 

* Corr. 21,398, dated 5 p.m., 27th January. 

102 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

Vareddes whilst Marmont marched on Meaux. 
He arrived there just as the garrison of National 
Guards had surrendered to some of Sacken's 
cavalry who had crossed there. Marmont quickly 
drove the Russians back over the Marne and 
blew up the bridge. Sacken also attacked the 
rearguard at Trilport, but, being repulsed by 
Ricard and Doumerc's cavalry, he fell back 
towards La Ferte-sous-Jouarre. The Trilport 
bridge was also destroyed when Ricard had 
passed. That night Mortier stood with his left at 
Vareddes and his right towards Meaux, where 
Marmont took up the defence of the Marne. 
Vincent, who held Chateau- Thierry with a small 
detachment, was called in by Mortier. Finding 
the enemy on the road to La Ferte-sous-Jouarre, 
he made for Lizy-sur-Ourcq, where he was driven 
across the Ourcq and joined Mortier's left. 

Bliicher, meanwhile, had reached La Ferte- 
sous-Jouarre, had thrown two pontoon bridges at 
Sameron, and by evening had Kleist's corps on 
the right bank of the Marne. Katzeler, with the 
advanced guard, had seized Lizy, after driving 
Vincent from it. The rest of the army was still 
on the left bank of the Marne. At 10 a.m. on 
the 28th, Bliicher had not realized the approach of 
Napoleon ; for he began a letter to Schwarzenberg 
by saying, "It appears that up to now the 
Emperor Napoleon has hardly sent any de- 
tachment back against me." 

Early that morning Napoleon, finding that 
there was only some cavalry in Fere Champen- 
oise, left that place to be cleared by his advanced 
guard at CEuvy, whilst the mass of his army 
pushed direct on La Ferte-Gaucher. There was 

The Second Pursuit of Bliicher 103 

no fighting, except at Fere Champenoise, and in 
the evening Victor, the Guard, and headquarters 
were at Sezanne. Ney with three infantry- 
divisions, the Guard cavalry, and that of 
R. d'Urbal, Watier, and Sparre,* was at Esternay, 
with Arrighi and Bordessoulle close up on his 
left rear. 

Napoleon wrote to Marmont and Mortierf 
that, if the enemy was still at La Ferte-sous- 
Jouarre next day, he would attack, looking to the 
marshals to support him from the opposite 

Bliicher had now open to him four courses : 

(1) He might push forward on Meaux and 
Paris which was the course he said, in his letter 
of 10 a.m. on the 28th, he meant to follow. 

(2) He might get away northwards on the 
right bank of the Marne towards Soissons, so as 
to join Biilow from Laon and Winzingerode from 
Reims, trusting to the protection of his rear by 
the Marne with its broken bridges. 

(3) He might continue on Paris by Lizy, 
turning the marshals' left and still protected by 
the Marne. 

(4) He might, when he realized that Napoleon 
was in his rear, face about for a battle with the 
Emperor, as the latter expected. 

On the whole, the second course was the 
wisest, though to a man of Bluchers temperament 
there was a strong temptation to continue on 
Paris, or to fight Napoleon. 

* Sparre's brigade of iooo cavalry had just arrived from Soult's 

t He had to send orders vid Paris as he had no direct 

104 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

Before Blucher had finished his letter of 
10 a.m. he received one, dated 25th February, 
from Schwarzenberg, saying that the army of 
Bohemia would continue its retreat until Bllicher's 
pressure on Napoleon's communications allowed 
resumption of the offensive. For the present, the 
parts played by Schwarzenberg and Blucher in 
August, 18 1 3, were to be reversed, Blucher now 
acting on the offensive, Schwarzenberg on the 
defensive. To Blucher command was now given 
over the corps of Winzingerode, Bulow, and 
the Duke of Weimar. Holland and Belgium, 
occupied by Bernadotte, would now form a new 
base for Bliicher's operations. In conclusion, he 
was requested to establish a flying post of cossacks 
between the two armies. 

Blucher now finished his letter, saying the 
flying post was not possible, but he would keep 
Winzingerode at Reims as a link between them, 
whilst he would order Bulow to advance on Paris 
by Soissons and Dommartin, so as to be able to 
unite with him for a battle if the Emperor 
followed him. Winzingerode had been asked by 
Blucher on the 26th to come to Meaux ; but, 
fearing Mortier on his flank at Villers-Cotterets, 
the Russian had only sent Tettenborn through 
Epernay. Blucher now ordered Winzingerode to 
stop at Reims. To the Duke of Weimar he 
wrote to wait till Bernadotte's Swedes could take 
over the blockade of the Netherland fortresses, but 
to place himself ready to move south if required. 

Langeron's command, which also belonged to 
the Silesian army, was much dispersed. Nine 
thousand were before Mayence ; Kapzewitch, the 
remains of Olsufiew's corps, and Korff's cavalry 

The Second Pursuit of Bliicher 105 

were with Bliicher ; St. Priest's corps was at St. 
Dizier. Langeron himself had started to join 
Bliicher on the Aube with a regiment of cavalry and 
one of cossacks. Finding the Prussian general 
gone, he went to Vertus. There he met Tetten- 
born, who told him Napoleon was at Fere-Cham- 
penoise. Thence he went to Epernay where he 
joined Colonel von Lobenthal, who was in 
command of some 2000 reinforcements for 

The most important fighting on the 28th had 
been with the two marshals. They had inferred, 
from Sacken's retreat on the 27th, that Bliicher 
was going to turn them by Lizy-sur-Ourcq, and 
decided that their own best course was to move 
up the Marne towards Lizy, where they knew 
Kleist had been the evening before. Kleist, 
though he had no supports at hand, repaired the 
Lizy bridge and moved down the right bank of 
the Ourcq and Marne to take post behind the 
Therouanne. Thence he was driven back up the 
river, destroying again the Lizy bridge as he 
passed, till at midnight he stood (still on the right 
bank) behind the Gergogne brook. Marmont was 
in front of him at May-en-Multien, Mortier at 
Lizy, where he repulsed two of Kapzewitch's 
regiments sent to support Kleist. Sacken had 
also marched to the sound of the guns in that 
direction. Kleist had lost 1000 men and believed, 
from the shouts of "Vive l'Empereur," that he 
was opposed to Napoleon. 

On the 1st March Bliicher still had only 
rather vague reports of the French advance on 
his rear. He had heard from Korff that the 
enemy was at Suzanne, but knew nothing of 

106 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

his strength, or whether Napoleon was present. 
Nevertheless, remembering the events of the 
middle of February, he thought it safer to get 
behind the Marne. For a moment he was 
inclined to meet the new enemy with Sacken, 
Kapzewitch, and Yorck, leaving Kleist to deal 
with the marshals ; but Kleist had been doing 
badly ; therefore, Kapzewitch and Korff were 
ordered to march on Gesvres ; Yorck to Crouy, 
his march being covered by Sacken at Lizy. 
Kleist was to make a fresh advance on Meaux ; 
all baggage and pontoons to move to Gandelu 
on the road to Oulchy. Blucher proposed to fall 
back on Oulchy in order to gather in Blilow and 
Winzingerode. The country he would have to 
pass through on the left bank of the Ourcq was 
marshy, with bad roads rendered still worse by 
the thaw which had now succeeded the frost of 
the last few days. 

By 2 p.m., when Napoleon's horse artillery at 
La Ferte-sous-Jouarre was firing at the enemy 
across the river, all the allied troops were across, 
and the bridges removed or destroyed. That 
night the Emperor had cavalry in La Ferte-sous- 
Jouarre, Ney and Arrighi three or four miles 
behind it, the Guard at Rebais, Victor at La 
Ferte-Gaucher.* Bordessoulle was at Coulom- 
miers, on his way to join the marshals. Napoleon 
was hung up by the impossibility of crossing 
at La Fert6-sous-Jouarre ; for the permanent 
bridge was badly damaged, and he had no 
pontoons, a fact of which he was constantly 
complaining to Paris. Whoever was in fault, he 
had undoubtedly been seriously hampered by it, 
* Map III (a). 

The Second Pursuit of Bliicher 107 

both at Nogent on the 19th and here. Marmont 
reported the enemy was marching on La Ferte- 
Milon by both banks of the Ourcq. The 
Emperor's plan of crushing Bliicher against the 
Marne, between his own army and that of the 
marshals, had failed. He saw that the repair of 
the bridge at La Ferte-sous-Jouarre would delay 
him, and, to add to his troubles, he heard that 
Oudinot had been badly beaten at Bar-sur-Aube 
on the 27th February. He could only rely on 
Schwarzenberg's notorious slowness and irre- 
solution to prevent him pushing his way to Paris. 
The Emperor now contemplated a new scheme. 
He proposed to drive Bliicher far away north- 
wards, and then to march by Chalons, calling up 
the weakly blockaded garrisons of his fortresses 
in Lorraine. Reinforced by them, he would 
march on Schwarzenberg's communications, a 
move which, looking to the Austrian's excessive 
sensitiveness on this point, might be expected to 
bring him back, even if he were already at the 
gates of the capital. 

During this 1st March Kleist's fresh advance 
towards Meaux had been repulsed, and Marmont 
and Mortier occupied at night practically the 
same positions as in the previous night. When, 
at 5 p.m. on the 2nd, Napoleon heard of this, he 
replied to Mortier that his own force would be 
ready to cross the Marne in a couple of hours. 
He supposed Bliicher was retreating on La Ferte- 
Milon, and that the two marshals had between 
them nearly 25,000 men and 80 guns.* He 

* They had little more than two-thirds of that number, though 
Mortier had been reinforced by Poret de Morvan's provisional Young 
Guard division (4800), and Marmont by 1 100 cavalry and 48 guns 

io8 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

added, " As soon as I am reassured as to the 
offensive movement against you, my intention is 
to move on my fortresses, marching in the 
direction of Chalons (for they are not really 
blockading any of the places ; so that the 
garrison of Metz makes sorties nearly to Nancy), 
and all these reinforcements would largely increase 
my army." * 

The Emperor was again suffering from exces- 
sive optimism ; for it was not for another sixteen 
hours that the bridge was ready. It was only 
in the morning of the 2nd March that Bliicher 
heard positively from Tettenborn that he had 
Napoleon in person following him. His troops 
were undoubtedly suffering very severely in the 
marshy country, cut off from their old line of 
communications, and with the new one not yet in 
working order. Russians and Prussians vied 
with one another in pillaging and burning, in a 
way which horrified so stern a disciplinarian as 
Yorck. f Muffling describes their appearance 
two days later at Soissons. "Our men looked 
remarkable with their faces blackened by bivouac 
smoke, and long strangers to the luxury of a 
razor, but with an expression of energy and 
bodily strength — with tattered cloaks, badly 
patched trousers, and unpolished arms — the 
cavalry on their ill-cleaned, but neighing horses — 
all with a true martial bearing." J They were 
far from being the demoralized crew that 
Napoleon described on the 1st March. § So 

from Paris, and there were 600 Polish lancers and another battalion 
on the way, as well as Bordessoulle's 800 cavalry. 

* Corr. 21,416. 

t Droysen, " Life of Yorck," III. 332. 

t " Passages from my Life," p. 148. § Corr. 21,418. 

The Second Pursuit of Bliicher 109 

satisfied was Napoleon on that date that he 
would soon dispose of the army of Silesia, that 
he told Caulaincourt (who had just written that 
the allies would consider the negotiations at an 
end, unless their new terms were accepted by the 
10th March) that nothing would induce him to 
accept less than the Frankfort terms. 

During the 2nd, Bliicher moved but little. 
He knew not the whereabouts of Biilow and 
Winzingerode. A message to him had been 
intercepted which would have told him that 
Winzingerode was due at Fismes on the 1st, 
whence he would march on Soissons, under an 
arrangement with Biilow to try a combined coup 
de main against the place. Bliicher now imposed 
another night march on his weary troops. They 
were to take position on the north bank of the 
Ourcq, where it flows from east to west before 
turning south about La Ferte-Milon. Bliicher 
was at Oulchy-le-Chateau at midnight on the 
2nd, whence he wrote to Biilow that he must now 
abandon his advance on Paris, and concentrate 
with the army of Silesia about Oulchy for a 
battle with Napoleon. He also called up Win- 
zingerode to between Fismes and Soissons for the 
same purpose. Further, he made inquiries as to 
what bridges were available on the Aisne near 
Soissons. It was only when these letters had 
gone that he heard of Biilow'sand Winzingerode' s 
combined movement on Soissons. A letter from 
Winzingerode, dated Soissons, 3rd March, 5 a.m., 
informed Bliicher that an attempt on Soissons 
on the previous evening had failed, that Win- 
zingerode was sending the greater part of his 
infantry across the Aisne at Vailly to join Biilow, 

no Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

that, with one brigade, he would remain before 
Soissons during the 3rd, and then, unless cir- 
cumstances changed, he would make for Fismes. 
At 7 a.m. Winzingerode replied to Bluchers last 
orders, saying there was no good position for 
defence against an attack from Soissons or 
Villers-Cotterets. He would await further 
orders to march to Oulchy or elsewhere. Before 
this letter reached him, Bllicher had decided to 
join Billow and Winzingerode beyond the Aisne. 
All his baggage was sent off to Fismes at noon, 
the pontoons were sent to Buzancy, and Win- 
zingerode was asked to find a good place for 
the passage, and to mask Soissons. If possible, 
Blucher wished to cross at Venizel. The army 
was ordered to march by Buzancy to the Aisne 
above Soissons. 

With the French there was no serious con- 
tact, except in the direction of Marmont and 
Mortier, who had some fighting with Kleist about 
Neuilly-St. Front, as they pursued him towards 

Napoleon, only able to commence passing the 
Marne at 10 a.m., had his army by evening of the 
3rd in the following positions : 

(1) Marmont, Mortier and Bordessoulle be- 
tween Neuilly-St. Front and the Ourcq. 

(2) Grouchy's cavalry at La Croix, in touch 
with them. 

(3) Nansouty about Rocourt, with a detach- 
ment at Fere-en-Tardenois. 

(4) Headquarters, Ney (with the divisions 
P. Boyer and Meunier) and the Guard at B£zu- 
St. Germain. 

(5) Victor approaching Chateau-Thierry from 

The Second Pursuit of Blucher in 

La Ferte-Gaucher direct, and Curial's division 
(of Ney's corps) waiting for him at the former. 

(6) Arrighi halted at Montreuil-aux-Lions on 
account of the exhaustion of his young troops. 

Blucher, meanwhile, on reaching Buzancy had 
found his task much facilitated by news that 
Soissons had capitulated, and would be evacuated 
at 4 p.m. 

The surrender of Soissons has been the 
subject of much controversy, and a small volume 
could be filled by a discussion of its effect on the 
campaign. Thiers, Houssaye, and other French 
writers agree with Napoleon in saying it saved 
Blucher from annihilation. The same is said 
by the partisans of Btilow and Winzingerode. 
Muffling, Clausewitz, and most German writers 
say that Blucher could, as he proposed, have got 
across the Aisne above Soissons in ample time. 
It is impossible, in this work, to go in detail into 
the controversy, but we shall state the general 
conclusions we draw from it. Naturally, Blucher 
now decided to use the stone bridge at Soissons, 
as well as his own pontoon bridges. He was 
able to begin his passage in the afternoon of the 
3rd, and to complete it in the evening of the 4th. 

One conclusion we may state at once, namely, 
that there is little or nothing to be said for 
Moreau, the French commandant of Soissons. 
He had a small but veteran garrison,* the forti- 
fications were certainly useless against a regular 
siege, but still sufficient to have enabled him to 
hold out for twenty-four or thirty-six hours against 
almost any force ; he actually repulsed, without 
difficulty, Winzingerode's attack in the evening 

* Chiefly the " Regiment of the Vistula." 

ii2 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

of the 2nd. Yet, during the succeeding night 
he allowed himself to be cajoled, threatened, 
and flattered into a dereliction of his obvious 
duty by surrendering the place without another 
fight, on condition that the garrison should 
march out, in the direction of Compiegne, with 
6 guns and the honours of war. He did not even 
blow up the bridge before capitulating. The 
terms offered him should have sufficed to show 
him what importance the allies attached to the 
place, and how very uncertain they felt of being 
able to storm it. Marmont spoke none too 
strongly when he wrote to Berthier that this was 
" an excellent opportunity for hanging a com- 
mandant of a fortress." Nor was Napoleon 
unjustified in saying, "It was not for General 
Moreau to reason ; since he had been ordered 
to hold Soissons, he should have held it. 
Soissons was evidently not a fortress, but only 
a military post guarding the Aisne bridge, where 
he ought to hold out to the last extremity, as 
a defile is held till one is wiped out." * That 
incontrovertible statement overthrows the one 
possible excuse which might have been put 
forward, namely, that Moreau was ignorant of 
the approach of Napoleon. Marmont and 
Mortier heard of the surrender of Soissons at 
Hartennes in the morning of the 4th ; yet 
the Emperor was not informed till late in the 
night of the 4th~5th. The marshals, instead 
of pushing on with all their force, and trying to 

* Corr. 21,451. Napoleon, in his usual form, ordered Moreau 
to be tried and publicly shot in Paris, but, before the formal trial 
could be completed, the Emperor had fallen and Moreau escaped 

The Second Pursuit of Bllicher 113 

hamper Bllicher's passage of the Aisne, only sent 
on their cavalry which could do nothing but idly 
watch the passage from afar. 

Bllicher crossed by the stone bridge and by 
three pontoon bridges. It took him twenty-four 
hours or more. If he had not had Soissons, he 
would still have had his pontoon bridges, and a 
bridge (not passable for wheeled traffic) at Vailly. 
Under these circumstances, the passage would 
have required longer, but, on the other hand, 
he might have hurried up under the pressure of 
need. He was certainly saved a good deal of 
annoyance and some delay by the marshals' 
inaction, but they could not have delayed him 
very long. Even without the Soissons bridge, he 
would certainly have been over by the morning 
of the 5th. 

Could Napoleon have stopped him if Soissons 
had held out ? 

To answer the question we must examine the 
Emperor's views and movements on the 4th 
when, as we know, he still believed Soissons to 
be holding out. Marmont had judged rightly 
that Bllicher was making for Soissons, but 
Napoleon persisted in believing he was trying 
to escape, between the Aisne and the Vesle, to 
Reims. He had clearly no idea that Bllicher 
was changing his line of communications from 
Chalons to Laon. He knew nothing of Blilow's 
having even reached Laon. Had he believed 
Bllicher to be making for the Aisne at or a little 
above Soissons, he would naturally have pursued 
him direct, in the hope of driving him against the 
river before he could be ready to pass. But, 
with the belief he held, his movements were 

ii4 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

directed to intercept Blucher's eastward march 
about Fismes. On the evening of the 4th he 
was at Fismes with the Old Guard, Nansouty, 
and Ney's two divisions, and had cavalry posts 
watching the Aisne at Pont Arcy, Maizy, and 
Roucy. Grouchy's cavalry was astride of the 
Vesle in the space Paars, Bazoche, Mont Notre 
Dame. Victor and Curial's division were at 
Fere-en-Tardenois, and Arrighi at Chateau- 
Thierry. Laferriere's Guard cavalry division was 
on the march to Reims. 

At this moment Blucher was completing his 
passage of the Aisne. He had cavalry posts 
along the right bank of the Aisne all the way 
to Berry-au-Bac ; his baggage was on the way to 
Berry-au-Bac, part of it had been taken at 
Courcelles, but recaptured by Blucher's cavalry, 
which extended up both banks of the Vesle 
as far as the line Lime-Courcelles. Napoleon 
expected to find Blucher at Fismes, though he 
admitted the possibility that he might be trying 
to reach Laon by crossing near Soissons and 
masking that place. In that case, if the Emperor 
crossed the Aisne north of Fismes, he might 
still reach Laon first. 

These being Napoleon's views, he had nothing 
nearer to Blucher than Grouchy's cavalry, which 
was opposed by Blucher's. The nearest French 
infantry of the Emperor's own force was at Fismes, 
some seventeen miles from Soissons, and about 
ten from the Vailly footbridge. Under these 
circumstances, how is it possible to believe that 
Napoleon could have cut off any large portion 
of Blucher's army south of the Aisne by the 
morning of the 5th, the latest time at which the 

The Second Pursuit of Bliicher 115 

allies would have been crossing, even if they had 
not had the Soissons bridge ? Our conclusion, 
therefore, must be contrary to that which repre- 
sents Bliicher as saved solely by the capture of 
Soissons. At the same time, the possession of 
that bridge certainly saved him some anxiety. 

Even at 2 p.m. on the 4th, Napoleon knew 
nothing of Biilow ; for at that hour Berthier 
wrote to Marmont : " The Emperor thinks you 
ought to have news of Biilow, who is believed 
to be towards Avesnes." * He did know that 
Winzingerode had joined Bliicher, and that the 
two together must have 70,000 men. Yet, 
though he had only 48,000 men, including those 
of the two marshals, he proposed a concentric 
movement with two separate bodies; for he 
wrote to Marmont : M If the enemy has marched 
on Soissons, it is probably in order to reach 
Laon, and, if you are at Soissons with the Duke 
of Treviso, we can, on our side, arrive at the 
same time as you at Laon." f Knowing Bliicher 

* Avesnes to Soissons is at least three marches. 

f There is some difficulty in arriving at the numbers on either 
side, mainly caused by Houssaye's attempt to show that the 
allied numbers were less than generally represented by their own 
authorities. At p. 200, n. 1, of " 18 14," he tries to show that 
Bliicher had only 84,000 men on the 10th at Laon, which, allowing 
for intermediate losses, would mean about 90,000 on the 4th March. 
On the other hand Weil (III. 71), a very careful and accurate 
French authority, puts the number at nearly 113,000. Plotho 
(III. 293) says Bliicher had 110,000 at Laon, say 115,000 on the 
4th March. Janson (II. 101) follows Weil. Muffling (" Passages, 
etc.," 151) says " over 100,000," and that he took the numbers from 
the daily states. Again (p. 473) he says 109,000. Droysen (" Life 
of Yorck," II. 331) gives details : Langeron 26,000 ; Sacken 13,700 ; 
Winzingerode 30,000 ; Biilow 16,900 ; Yorck 13,500 ; Kleist 10,600 ; 
total 110,700. Bogdanowitch (I. 308) says 105,000. Damitz's 
figures are a confusion of Bogdanowitch's and of little value. On 
the whole, the weight of evidence seems to be in favour of 1 10,000 
or more. As for Napoleon, Houssaye (p. 200, n. 1) says he had 

n6 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

had been joined by Winzingerode, but not that 
he had got Billow's 17,000 also, he should have 
put Bluchers force at about 90,000, though he 
probably thought it less. Anyhow, if he took 
Bliicher as having only 70,000, he was opposed 
with 48,000 to 70,000. As a matter of fact he 
had about 110,000 against him. 

scarcely 35,000 at Laon, including Marmont and Mortier, say 
42,000 on the 4th March. This seems incomprehensible ; for 
(p. 127, n. 2) he gives Napoleon alone, without the marshals, 
34,233 on the 2nd March, and apparently omits Bordessoulle's 
800 cavalry sent to the marshals. He puts Marmont and Mortier 
at 10,502 (p. 124, n. 4), on the 26th February, but to that total have 
to be added the reinforcements from Paris (Poret de Morvau, etc.) 
received in the beginning of March amounting to 6055 (p. 126, 
n. 2). (He forgets the 600 Polish lancers and a battalion following 
next day.) Thus we may say that on the 28th February Napoleon 
had about 35,000 men besides 17,000 with the marshals. The 
Emperor had practically no fighting up to the 4th March, and we 
may accept Houssaye's figure for him of 34,233 on that date. Of 
their 17,000 Marmont and Mortier cannot have lost more than 
3,000 in their various combats with Kleist. The total French 
forces on the 4th March may, therefore, be taken as at least 



NAPOLEON'S first idea on the 5th 
March was to cross the Aisne due 
north of Fismes and move on Laon, 
thereby inducing Bliicher also to 
make for Laon from Soissons. But he abandoned 
the idea because, having no pontoons, he would 
have to rely on trestle bridges, and because he 
found Bliicher extended much farther east than 
he had believed. Moreover, Marmont reported 
that Bliicher was already retreating on Laon. 

The Emperor, therefore, decided to cross at 
Berry-au-Bac, where there was a new stone bridge, 
and to march on Laon by the road from Reims, 
At 10 a.m. he heard that Corbineau, whom he had 
sent to Reims on the previous day with Laferriere's 
Guard cavalry division, had taken the place. 

Everything under the Emperor's immediate 
command was ordered on Berry-au-Bac. Mortier, 
who had been ordered to Braisne, was now to con- 
tinue on Berry-au-Bac. Marmont was to reach 
Braisne in the night of the 5th-6th. By that time 
Napoleon would be sure that Bliicher was not 
going to try a move on Paris by the Soissons 
road. During this day Marmont and Mortier 
tried a coup de ??iain against Soissons, but were 
beaten off by the strong garrison which Bliicher 
had left there, with a loss of 1500 men. Con- 
sequently, even Mortier did not start for Braisne 
till 9 p.m. 

n8 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

When Napoleon reached Berry-au-Bac, at 
4 p.m., he found that Nansouty and Pac had 
driven Russian cavalry from it back beyond 
Corbeny. Russian infantry were reported about 
Craonelle. Ney (divisions P. Boyer * and 
Meunier) joined Nansouty at Corbeny in the 
evening. The Old Guard was with the Emperor 
about Berry-au-Bac and La Ville aux Bois. 
Victor's corps and Curial's division stretched from 
Fismes towards Berry-au-Bac. Arrighi was at 
Fere-en-Tardenois. Marmont and Mortier were 
only about to march from in front of Soissons. 
R. d'Urbal's dragoons were waiting to be relieved 
by Mortier at Braisne.f 

As for Blucher, the main part of his army was 
behind the Aisne north of Soissons, but he had 
detachments watching the river eastwards up to 
Craonelle, Craonne, and on the Reims-Laon 
road in front of Corbeny. He also still had 
cavalry on the lower Vesle. It had been driven 
from Braisne by R. d'Urbal. The eastward force 
towards Craonne was part of Winzingerode's 
corps which had moved there in consequence 
of news of the French passage at Berry-au- 

Blucher during the day had come to the con- 
clusion that Napoleon was marching on Laon by 
the Reims road. His first orders for the 6th 
were to the following effect : — 

(1) Baggage to move to behind Laon. 

(2) Winzingerode to watch the enemy from 
between Braye and Cerny. 

* P. Boyer's command consisted of one brigade only (about 
1900 men), the other was with Macdonald. 
t Map III (a). 

Craonne 119 

(3) Sacken to hold Vailly, and take post 
between Ostel and Braye. 

(4) Langeron, leaving 5000 men in Soissons, 
to fall back on Aizy with the rest, watching the 
Aisne from Celles to Soissons. 

(5) Kleist to stand between Filain and La 

(6) Yorck between Joiiy and Pargny. 

(7) Blilow to fall back towards Laon by the 
Soissons road. 

Napoleon had, on the 5th, sent orders to 
Janssens at Mezieres to fall, with the garrisons 
of the Ardennes fortresses, on Bliicher's rear at 
Laon. Durutte, at Metz, was to break out with 
all his forces, and to collect the garrisons of the 
neighbouring fortresses. On the 6th the Emperor 
announced to Joseph his intention, after pushing 
Bliicher on Laon, of marching against Schwarzen- 
berg by Chalons or Arcis-sur-Aube. 

By noon on that day he had 30,500 men about 
Corbeny, La Ville aux Bois, and Berry-au-Bac. 
He proposed to send an advanced guard con- 
sisting of Nansouty, Ney, Friant's Old Guard, 
and the reserve artillery on Laon by Festieux. 
Victor would remain on the watch about Craonne 
and Pontavert. But, before advancing definitely 
on Laon, it was necessary to be sure that Bliicher 
was not hanging back on the heights of the right 
bank of the Aisne. 

Here it will be convenient to describe the 
country in the triangle Soissons, Laon, Berry-au- 
Bac which was to form the theatre of operations 
during the next few days.* 

* The author had the advantage in September, 1912, of going 
over a great part of this country with the French 4th division 

120 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

The so-called Chemin des Dames, starting 
from a point on the Soissons-Laon road near the 
inn of L'Ange Gardien, runs eastward along a 
continuous ridge to Craonne near the eastern end 
of the ridge. Just west of that village it descends 
along the southern face to Chevreux, and rises 
again slightly to join the Reims-Laon road at 
Corbeny. The ridge averages an elevation of 
some 400 feet above the valley of the Aisne. It 
varies much in width, from a couple of hundred 
yards or less, where valleys from the north and 
south nearly meet, to two miles or more along 
the spurs on either side. The spurs on the north 
side are generally shorter than on the south, and 
the slope is steeper to the valley of the Lette, or 
Ailette, a stream which runs generally parallel to 
that of the Aisne to join the Oise. The slopes 
on this side are much wooded, and the valley is 

North of the Lette are more hills of about the 
same elevation as those on the south, but forming 
a less distinct ridge. These northern heights 
again fall to a wooded marshy plain extending 
over some four miles up to Laon. West of the 
Soissons-Laon road is a hilly country, the eastern 
border of which is within two or three miles of 
Laon. North of Laon, and east of the Reims- 
Laon road, the country is practically level. 

Laon itself stands on an isolated hill rising 
some 350 feet above the plain. Viewed from the 
plain on the north, it reminds those who have 
seen Gwalior of that Indian rock fortress. The 
town occupies the summit, and even now there 

(II corps) which manoeuvred on general ideas based on those of 
Napoleon of 1 8 14, 

Craonne i 2 i 

remains much of the old walls which once made 
it a very strong fortress. At the foot of the hill 
are several suburbs, of which the most important 
for our purpose are Semilly at the south-west 
corner, and Ardon to the south, the latter traversed 
by a marshy brook of the same name which flows 
to join the Lette beyond the road to Soissons 
some five or six miles south-west of Laon. The 
Soissons-Laon road runs through or over hills 
till it reaches the plain south of Laon. The 
Reims-Laon road runs mostly outside the hills 
which only cross it with outlying spurs for a mile 
or two on either side of Festieux. The chief 
distances, as the crow flies, are : Soissons to Laon 
1 8 miles ; Soissons to Berry-au-Bac 26 miles ; 
Berry-au-Bac to Laon 1 8 miles. 

The plain south of Laon, between the Reims 
and Soissons roads, is extremely difficult for 
transverse communication, owing to the marshy 
fields in which, though the ground looks solid 
enough at a distance, a horse will sink to its 
hocks. The villages in the neighbourhood are 
generally very defensible. Some of them, 
Bruyeres for instance, are old fortified villages 
with some of the walls still standing-. 

As P. Boyer marched on Laon on the morning 
of the 6th, he encountered little or no resistance 
up to Maison Rouge, and the Polish lancers 
reached Festieux. On the left it was different. 
Meunier found Russians holding the Abbey of 
Vauclerc ; two battalions of Old Guard under 
Caramon had to drive the enemy from Chevreux 
and Craonne, and found themselves unable to 
take the little plateau above these villages. This 
little plateau must be cleared, so the Emperor 

122 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

ordered Meunier to co-operate, by Vauclerc and 
Heurtebise, with the attack from the south. He 
took the Abbey at 5 p.m., and then engaged in 
a desperate fight for Heurtebise, the farm which 
stands on the narrow neck between the little 
plateau and the greater farther west. The farm, 
taken and retaken several times, remained in 
possession of the Russians, but they withdrew 
from the little plateau, which was occupied by 
Caramon facing Heurtebise.* 

Meunier spent the night in the valley north 
of Heurtebise. Boyer was at Bouconville, 
whither he had been sent to support Meunier. 
Of the Old Guard one brigade was at Chevreux 
and Craonne, the other at Corbeny. On the left 
was Exelmans' cavalry at Craonelle and Ouiches. 
B. de Rebeval's division was at La Ville-aux- 
Bois. Charpentier, Curial, and the cavalry of 
R. d'Urbal, Colbert, and Laferriere were at Berry- 
au-Bac. Only Mortier at Cormicy, Arrighi at 
Roucy, and Marmont at Braisne were still south 
of the Aisne. When Bllicher issued his first 
orders, given above, for the 6th, he had not heard 
of Winzingerode's eastward movement on the 
5th. By 2 p.m. he was satisfied that Napoleon 
was making, not a tactical turning movement to 
be combined with a frontal attack from the Aisne, 
but a strategical turning movement by the Reims 
road with his whole army. He therefore issued 
a general order for the movement of the Silesian 
army along the great ridge, hoping to fall upon 
the Emperor's left flank as he was spread out in 
the march from Berry-au-Bac to Laon. Blucher 
rode over to Heurtebise, where he arrived just as 

* Positions evening of 26th. Map III (b). 

Craonne 123 

Meunier's last attack had been repulsed. He now 
saw that he must expect to be attacked next day 
from the east along the Chemin des Dames. 
Napoleon had equally come to the conclusion 
that he could not venture on the march to Laon 
without first brushing aside the force which stood 
on his left flank, and which was estimated at 
20,000 men. Bliicher now took up a new scheme. 
Woronzow, with the whole of Winzingerode's 
infantry and part of his cavalry, would meet 
Napoleon's attack. Sacken would stand as his 
support about Froidmont, with his cavalry in 

Whilst Woronzow held Napoleon in front, 
Winzingerode with 10,000 or 12,000 cavalry* 
would move by the north side of the Lette valley 
on Festieux, whence he would descend on 
Napoleon's right flank and rear as the Emperor 
attacked Woronzow from the east. All this 
cavalry was to be first assembled at Filain, and 
then to march so as to be at Festieux by day- 
break. But Winzingerode had his own cavalry 
towards Craonne, and he would have to make a 
march of several miles before he even joined the 
rest of his force at Filain. The effect of this we 
shall see later. 

Winzingerode was to be followed by the 
infantry of Yorck, Kleist, and Langeron f to sup- 
port his attack on Napoleon's right and rear. 
Btilow would march on Laon. 

Napoleon, who knew nothing of Bluchers 
movements or intentions, heard that an old 

* 5500 of his own, all Langeron's cavalry and Yorck's reserve 

t One of Langeron's brigades was still to remain in Soissons. 

124 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

fellow-student at Brienne, M. de Bussy, was 
now mayor of Beaurieux. Sending for him he 
obtained a great deal of information as to the 
locality, to which he listened attentively, and 
according to which he arranged his plan of 

His orders of 4 a.m. on the 7th contemplated 
a frontal attack on the plateau west of the neck of 
Heurtebise with Victor and Curial, supported if 
necessary by Friant and the reserve artillery. 

The enemy's left flank would be attacked at 
Ailles and to the south-east of it by P. Boyer and 
Meunier, whilst his right would be turned by 
Nansouty with Exelmans' cavalry by the heights 
of Vassogne. 

The rest of the army between Berry-au-Bac 
and Corbeny would be ready to move as might 
be required. Marmont, who was farthest behind, 
was to rejoin the army at once, and, if it should 
prove feasible to cross the Aisne about Maizy, 
he might be able to save some hours by doing so. 

By 8 a.m. on the 7th Napoleon, as the result 
of reports and of a personal reconnaissance from 
the plateau north of Oulches, was satisfied that 
Woronzow meant to fight. He was drawn up 
across the Chemin des Dames, with his front line 
just west of the woods Marion and Quatre Heures* 
some 1 100 yards west of Heurtebise which was 
still occupied.f The second and third lines were 
at intervals of 400 or 500 yards. The left rested 

* These two woods were on either side of the Chemin des Dames 
just where the neck leading westwards from Heurtebise opens out 
into a broader plateau. Both seem to have been cut down. They 
are shown on Map III (d). 

t Map III (c). 

Craonne 125 

on the village of Ailles down the slope of the 
Lette valley, the right (formed by one cavalry 
and three cossack regiments) stood on the heights 
above Vassogne, a total length of about ij miles. 

Woronzow had 96 guns, of which 36 were 
opposite the gap between the two woods, sweep- 
ing the neck of Heurtebise, 12 more on the right 
crossed fire with these, 18 fired on the valley of 
the Lette, and 30 were in reserve. Altogether 
he had about 16,000 infantry and 2000 cavalry. 
Behind him was Sacken's cavalry under Wassilt- 
chikow about 4000 strong. Sacken's infantry at 
Froidmont was too far off to give prompt support. 

The battle began about 9 a.m. with a can- 
nonade by part of the French artillery from north 
of Oulches to which the Russians replied. The 
distance being too great in those days, little 
harm was done. The cannonade did have one 
unfortunate effect, in inducing the impetuous 
Ney to believe that it was time for him to launch 
his attack against the Russian left. Though he 
had distinct instructions to await further orders 
before doing so, he hurled P. Boyer's brigade 
against Ailles, and Meunier's against the heights 
south-east of it. He was thus beginning a flank 
attack long before the frontal attack could develop 
and fix the enemy in that direction. Victor's 
men had been delayed by the state of the roads, 
slippery from frost. When they did begin to 
arrive, the first thing which had to be done was 
to move B. de Rebeval to the right to bring relief, 
by an attack on the Bois Marion, to Meunier, who 
had already lost heavily. Nansouty also had to 
be sent forward on the opposite flank, and more 
cavalry to support him was called up from 

126 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

Corbeny. About this hour (11 a.m.) Heurtebise 
caught fire and was evacuated by the Russians. 

For Ney's early commencement Napoleon 
must bear some of the blame; for, as at 
Bautzen, he had sent Ney orders without vouch- 
safing an explanation of his own general plan, 
which would have shown Ney the necessity for 
waiting to advance until the frontal attack was 
fully developed. But Ney must bear the whole 
blame for sending on his infantry far in advance 
of his artillery, and without any preparation of 
the attack by artillery fire. The result was that 
both Meunier and Pierre Boyer suffered terrible 
losses from the Russian guns on the edge of the 
plateau, and their attacks had been repulsed, or 
been brought to a standstill. About 11.30 Ney's 
artillery, now up, caused considerable damage to 
the Russian left at Ailles and on the plateau, and 
it showed some tendency to fall back. Then Ney 
led Meunier's men forward in person up the 
steep slope at the top of which they at last arrived. 

Nansouty, meanwhile, on the southern flank, 
had been more successful. Screening his advance 
with a dismounted advance guard, he had arrived 
on the spur between Vassogne and Paissy, and 
had defeated the 2000 cavalry and cossacks on 
Woronzow's right, as well as two battalions 
sent to their support 

It was about noon when Boyer de Rebeval, 
Victor's leading division, attacked the Bois 
Marion, thereby withdrawing the enemy's 
attention from the harassed troops of Meunier. 
He captured the wood but was driven back into 
it when he attempted to debouch. At 1 p.m. his 
division and Meunier's were in imminent peril 

Craonne 127 

of being driven again from the plateau. They 
suffered heavily from a Russian battery on the 
crest south of Ailles, which village still remained 
untaken by P. Boyer. Momentary relief was 
afforded by a charge of Sparre's dragoons against 
this battery, in which both Sparre and Grouchy 
were wounded. Then the Russians drove 
Meunier's and Rebeval's troops back. The 
former fled down the hill, but Rebeval's men 
were rallied behind the Bois Marion which they 
still held. 

At 1.45 the 1 st cavalry division of the Guard 
executed a desperate charge from Heurtebise 
against the enemy's guns across the Chemin des 
Dames. The guns were reached, but then the 
cavalry were driven back by a furious fire. They 
had nevertheless gained time for the arrival of 
Charpentier's division of Victor's corps, which 
advanced along the southern slopes towards 
the Bois de Quatre Heures. Sheltered by the 
slope from the Russian artillery, they took the 
wood with ease. By 2.30 Charpentier's left 
joined Nansouty's right and began to force in 
the right of the Russian infantry. Rebeval's guns 
and those of the Guard were now between the 
two woods. Nansouty, after driving the enemy's 
cavalry back to the head of the Paissy valley, 
had been forced by artillery fire to retire again. 

Ney, meanwhile, had, at 2 p.m., once more got 
back to the edge of the plateau with Meunier's men. 

It was about this time that P. Boyer reported 
the appearance of a hostile force towards 
Chamomile, on his right flank.* 

* What they saw was Kleist marching for the turning 
movement in support of Winzingerode's cavalry. 

128 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

With his right thus threatened from beyond 
the Lette, the Emperor saw that it was time for 
him to produce the " evenement," as he called 
the great final blow with which he was 
accustomed to complete the defeat of an enemy 
already almost exhausted. 

At 2.30 he ordered the reserve of artillery, 
from in rear of Heurtebise, to join the Guard's 
and Victor's guns beyond the narrow neck. 
When this was done, Drouot poured upon the 
Russian centre a blast of grape from 88 guns at 
a distance of only a few hundred yards. 

At this moment, P. Boyer had at last taken 
Ailles, the garrison of which streamed up on to 
the plateau. 

The remains of the divisions of Rebeval and 
Meunier were advancing from the neighbourhood 
of the Bois Marion, whilst Charpentier and the 
cavalry were pressing the Russian right. 

Curial, Friant, and the 3rd division of the 
cavalry of the Guard then moved forward through 
Drouot'sguns (the fire of which they temporarily 
masked) along the Chemin des Dames. 

The Russians now fell back in good order 
before this advance to a position with their right 
at the head of the Paissy valley, left about 
800 yards S.S.W. of the church at Ailles. 

The Emperor could now no longer be 
alarmed by the report from Ney that a hostile 
column was moving from Colligis to Montberault, 
up the farther slope of the Lette valley. A 
counter-attack by a few Russian battalions was 
repulsed, and at 4 p.m. the enemy retired to yet 
another parallel position, of which the right was 
about Troyan. 

Craonne 129 

Belliard, now commanding vice Grouchy 
wounded, succeeded in turning this from the 
Troyan valley, but, on the slope beyond Troyan, 
was charged by the whole of the Russian cavalry 
(that which had been on Woronzow's right and 
Wassiltchikow's in reserve) and driven back into 
the valley. The French Guard batteries were 
now in position along the road across the plateau 
from Ailles to Moulins, and P. Boyer was coming 
up from Ailles against the Russian left 

Once more the Russians fell back, covered 
devotedly by their cavalry, and again took post 
across the plateau in front of Courtecon. Then 
Boyer de Rebeval and Charpentier observed 
infantry moving down towards the Lette which 
they threw into disorder with artillery fire. Its 
discomfiture was completed by P. Boyer, but it 
got away to Chevregny, in which direction it 
could not be followed, owing to the presence of 
allied troops north of the Lette at Chevregny and 

It was between 7 and 8 p.m. when the French 
pursuit ended.* The mass of their army bivou- 
acked in the following positions, facing towards the 
Lette valley into which their outposts pushed. 
Mortier was on the right at Malval farm with 
Napoleon and the Guard infantry behind him at 
Braye. In the centre Ney, at Froidmont, had 
Belliard's cavalry behind him at Ostel. On the 
left Charpentier's division and the Guard cavalry 
were about the Chemin des Dames south-west of 
Filain, and Colbert's cavalry division was on their 
left rear about Aizy. Bordessoulle was left 
behind, at Heurtebise, as a connecting link with 

* Map III (e). 


130 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

the troops about Berry-au-Bac. Marmont, who 
had been unable to cross the Aisne at Maizy, 
still had a detachment at Fismes and some 
cavalry at Braisne, watching lest Bllicher should 
turn back on Paris. The bulk of Marmont's 
troops with Arrighi's division were at Berry-au- 
Bac, and a detachment of Polish lancers held 
Corbeny. The allies' outposts stretched from 
near l'Ange Gardien through Pargny and along 
the north bank of the Lette as far as the 
longitude of Courtecon. Behind these, Langeron 
and Sacken were on the roads to Laon. Yorck 
had got as far as Leuilly, and Btilow had already 
reached Laon. In another group stood Kleist 
and Winzingerode's cavalry about Festieux, with 
outposts towards Corbeny. 

What, meanwhile, had become of Winzinge- 
rode's turning movement ? At 10 a.m. Blucher, 
then with Woronzow, hurried off to see after 
Winzingerode, who was reported to be still at 
Chevregny, though he should have been at 
Festieux by daybreak. As we have implied, 
Bluchers own order was largely responsible for 
the delay. When Winzingerode got back late at 
night on the 6th to Filain with his own cavalry, 
he found Langeron's and Yorck's cavalry in 
bivouac for the night, saddles off, and the men 
sleeping or cooking. He, therefore, deferred his 
start till morning, but made no attempt to 
reconnoitre the road by which he was to march. 
When he did start, he took the longer road by 
Chevregny, Presles, Bruyeres, and Parfondru, 
instead of the shorter by Trucy, Colligis, and 
Montberault which Kleist chose. At 1 1 a.m. he 
and Kleist crossed one another at Chevregny, the 

Craonne 131 

cavalry still not clear of the marshes of the Lette. 
Kleist, who also started in the morning of the 
7th, reached Festieux by 4 p.m. At 2 p.m. 
Bliicher came up with Winzingerode who was 
even then only at Bruyeres. It was far too late 
to hope for any success against Napoleon's flank 
and rear. What Bliicher said at Bruyeres is, 
perhaps fortunately for polite ears, not recorded. 

The battle of Craonne was but a Pyrrhic 
victory for the Emperor. It had, too, entirely 
deranged his plan of marching on Laon by the 
Reims road to anticipate Bliicher, or to cut off all 
of his army that had not passed Laon. The 
Emperor had had to take a position immensely 
strong in those days, and defended with desperate 
courage by Woronzow's Russians who numbered, 
including Wassiltchikow's cavalry, some 22,000 
men. In the evening after the battle the centre of 
gravity of the French army had been transferred 
from the Reims to the Soissons road, and there 
could now no longer be any idea of anticipating 
Bliicher at Laon. He must be followed directly 
and his rearguard defeated if, as Napoleon 
assumed, he was in full retreat on Avesnes. The 
idea of Woronzow being merely a rearguard which 
could be easily brushed aside was soon found to 
be false, and Napoleon had to call up practically 
everything he had on the Reims road, except the 
Polish lancers at Festieux, and Marmont and 
Arrighi at Berry-au-Bac. He actually engaged a 
number very little more than equal to Woronzow's, 
but he still had a reserve of about 8000 men in 
the divisions of Christiani and Poret de Morvan.* 
He had 102 guns against 96. 

* These were quite large divisions of 3300 and 4800 respectively 

132 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

The strength of the Russian position consisted 
in the fact that it was approached in front by a 
narrow neck which could be effectively swept by 
artillery fire, whilst the flanks rested on steep 
slopes, in the case of the left an almost precipitous 
slope. The one objection on this side was that 
the slope was so steep as to leave a considerable 
amount of ground " dead " to artillery fire from 
above. On the right the slopes were less steep, 
but still, by the route taken by Nansouty, very 
difficult for cavalry. There was a gentler slope 
up the end of the spur, but it would have entailed 
a considerable circuit, and that in a direction 
where the allies had some cavalry on the watch. 
We have already shown how Ney erred in throw- 
ing in his infantry on the flank without waiting for 
orders, and, still worse, without artillery at first. 
The consequence of his not waiting for the 
frontal attack to develop was that Boyer de 
Rebeval's division, instead of being used for the 
frontal attack as intended, had to be sent round 
to the flank to save Ney from utter disaster. 
The " evenement " at Craonne is highly charac- 
teristic of Napoleon. He launches against the 
enemy's centre, already exhausted by five or six 
hours' fighting, a storm of grape and canister from 
88 guns, followed immediately by a charge of the 
Guard infantry and cavalry. But the Russian 
troops rarely gave way to panic, and the retreat 
was carried out in good order. 

Bluchers plan for a turning movement was 
good in conception but badly executed. His 
order, fetching Winzingerode back six miles late 

for this campaign. P. Boyer's single brigade division was less than 
1900 strong ; Meunier's less than iooo, Curial's just over iooo. 

Craonne 133 

at night before starting him on his march, to 
Festieux, was almost as much to blame for the 
failure in execution as Winzingerode's slowness 
next day. What Bliicher should apparently have 
done was to send Winzingerode's cavalry direct 
across the Lette by Cerny and Chamomile, and to 
send back orders to the rest of the cavalry detailed 
to pass at Chevregny and join Winzingerode's rear 
at Chamomile by Trucy, Grandelain, and Colligis. 
That would have left the crossing clear for 
Kleist when he followed. Even then, it is by no 
means certain that the movement would have had 
all the effect that Bliicher hoped. The Emperor 
would have been able to oppose to it the troops 
of Marmont, Arrighi, and Bordessoulle, brought 
up from Berry-au-Bac, besides the divisions of 
Christiani and Poret de Morvan which he did not 
actually engage against Woronzow. Still it would 
probably have brought him to a standstill and he 
would not have been before Laon on the 9th. 
That, as we shall see, would perhaps have been 
fortunate for him. Bliicher seems to have made 
another mistake in leaving Sacken's infantry 
doing nothing at Froidmont, instead of bringing 
it up within supporting distance of Woronzow. 
Had he done so, Craonne might not even have 
been the hard-won victory for Napoleon that it 
was. The French at Craonne took not a single 
gun or other trophy. 

In the night of the 7th-8th Biilow was in 
position at Laon. Yorck had reached Leuilly 
through Etouvelles ; Winzingerode and Kleist 
were at Festieux ; Sacken and Langeron 
(including the garrison of Soissons) on the march 
for Laon. 

134 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

During this night Napoleon, as usual now, 
allowing the wish to be father to the thought, 
persuaded himself that the enemy was retreating 
in utter disorder by Laon, at which place he 
would have nothing but a rearguard which could 
be easily ejected and pushed northwards. The 
Emperor's first orders on the 8th sent a regiment 
of cavalry to ascertain if Soissons had been 
evacuated, and if so to recall the old garrison from 
Compiegne. The advance on Laon was continued, 
on Napoleon's side, by Ney's three divisions, 
preceded as advance guard by Belliard with the 
cavalry of Colbert, Laferriere, R. d'Urbal and 
Grouvel.* This advance was by Chavignon, 
Urcel and Chivy. Arrighi, Marmont, and Bor- 
dessoulle were to move simultaneously by the 
Reims-Laon road. The rest of the army would 
stand, for the moment, about L'Ange Gardien 
ready to march on Laon, Soissons, or Reims, 
as circumstances might require. At daybreak 
Soissons was found to be evacuated, though the 
news only reached Napoleon about 1 p.m. 

Belliard, forcing the passage of the Lette at 
Chavignon, found himself stopped by superior 
forces before Etouvelles and had to wait in a thick 
mist for Ney's infantry, which only came up at 
2 p.m., and, after having failed to take the place 
up to 5 p.m., was recalled to Urcel. 

Notwithstanding this, the Emperor still 
averred that there was only a rearguard to deal 
with at Laon. He decided to attack Etouvelles in 
the dark hours of the morning of the 9th, and, 
having taken it, to send Neyand M or tier forward 
to surprise the supposed rearguard at Laon, on 
* Commanding in place of Watier in disgrace. 

Craonne 135 

which place Marmont would also march by the 
Reims road. 

For the night of the 8th-c;th the main 
body of the French army stood between L'Ange 
Gardien and Urcel. Napoleon spent the night 
at Chavignon with the Old Guard and with 
Charpentier.* Marmont had been slack again, 
said it was too late to march that evening to 
Corbeny, and put off his march till next 

* Charpentier, a native of Soissons who had spent part of his 
youth at Laon, had special local knowledge. 



IT was i a.m. on the 9th when Ney began 
his advance on Etouvelles and Chivy. 
Gourgaud, with two battalions of Old Guard 
and 300 cavalry, had been sent during the 
night from Chavignon by Chaillevois and 
Chailvet to co-operate with Ney's frontal attack 
by turning the enemy's right. At 1.30 a.m., 
there being no signs of Gourgaud, Ney started 
his attack, headed by 400 volunteers of P. 
Boyer's brigade. The Russians at Etouvelles, 
surprised and turned by the volunteers, sur- 
rendered without much fighting, but at Chivy it 
was different. Gourgaud's turning movement 
had been retarded by the badness of the road, 
aggravated by a heavy fall of snow in the night. 
It was not till 4 a.m. that Ney got possession of 
Chivy, and Belliard's cavalry was sent forward to 
try and surprise Laon. 

At 5.30 a.m. Gourgaud's cavalry arrived before 
the suburb of Semilly, to find the enemy fully on 
his guard. The same state of affairs was found 
by Belliard's cavalry at Clacy, and at the suburb 
of Ardon. Everywhere they were met by a 
violent fire of musketry. Clearly Laon was not 
to be taken by a rush. Gourgaud's two battalions 
took post in a little wood between Chivy and 

* Map III (c). 

Laon and Reims 137 

At 7 a.m. Mortier began to arrive at Chivy, 
and relieved Ney, who marched against Semilly, 
Mortier taking the direction of Ardon. Ney 
at first succeeded in getting into Semilly, but 
was soon driven out by a counter-attack. It was 
not till 11 a.m. that he again got into the suburb, 
to be driven out once more. At 9 a.m. Poret de 
Morvan, of Mortier's corps, had stormed Ardon, 
and was pushing troops against the southern 
slopes of the hill of Laon, whence, about 11 a.m., 
they were driven back on to the plain. 

We must now return to Bliicher. The old 
man was suffering severely from fever and from 
incipient ophthalmia, but he had not the slightest 
idea of making off northwards beyond Laon as 
Napoleon had believed. 

Unlike most of the other allied generals, he 
was never afraid of Napoleon, and now, in the 
advantageous position of Laon, with an army two- 
and-a-half times Napoleon's numbers, he was 
more than ready to fight. 

His army had as its centre Biilow's 17,000 
men holding the strong position of the hill of 
Laon, and the suburbs of Semilly and Ardon. 

On the open plain, on the right facing Clacy, 
was Winzingerode's corps still, after the losses at 
Craonne, 25,000 strong. On the left, Yorck and 
Kleist with about 24,000 were about Athies, 
across the Reims road. Langeron and Sacken 
with 36,000 were in reserve behind Laon.* 

* See supra, p. 115 for Bluchers numbers on the 4th March. 
Since then he had lost about 5000 men at Craonne and perhaps 
another 2000 at Soissons on the 5th, at Heurtebise and Vauclerc on 
the 6th and on the 8th. He must still have had at least 103,000 
men. Of the 48,000 Napoleon had on the 4th, he had lost 1500 at 
Soissons on the 5th, at least 5500 at Craonne on the 6th. and 

138 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

Bliicher, too ill to sit a horse, posted himself 
on the south-west corner of the hill whence, 
when the mist lifted about 11 a.m., he had a 
magnificent view of the battlefield spread at his 

At that hour Poret de Morvan still held 
Ardon with difficulty. Behind him, about 
Leuilly, were Christiani's Old Guard division, 
R. d'Urbal's dragoons, and Pac's Polish lancers. 

P. Boyer was in front of Semilly, with 
Meunier and Curial in reserve. Colbert's and 
Letort's cavalry, and Gourgaud's two battalions 
watched the woods between Semilly and Chivy, a 
very insignificant force against Winzingerode's 
25,000 men beyond Clacy. 

That general had been ordered to make a 
vigorous attack on the French left, and to send 
Wassiltchikow by the foot of the hills on his 
right to turn it by Mons-en-Laonnois. His 
execution of the order was very feeble ; for the 
cavalry which he sent forward was repulsed, and 
the infantry division he sent to Clacy appears to 
have confined itself to helping Biilow once more 
to drive Ney from Semilly at noon. It was, 
however, driven back by Curial, though P. 
Boyer again failed in another attack on Semilly. 

At the same time, Poret de Morvan was 
driven from Ardon, but succeeded in getting 
back there, thanks to a charge by R. d'Urbal and 

perhaps 500 on the 8th. We have also to deduct 1000 for De 
France at Reims and the cavalry regiment at Soissons — in all 8500. 
That leaves him 40,000, of whom about 30,000 were with himself 
and 10,000 with Marmont. It is difficult to arrive at exact figures, 
but, looking to the certainly vast disproportion, it is not of vital 
importance whether Napoleon had with himself 30,000 men, or as 
Houssaye (195) says, only 27,000. 

Laon and Reims 139 

Pac on the left flank of the Prussians following 
him. An attempt to get into communication with 
Marmont failed. The hour was about 1 p.m. 
Napoleon had only now come up to Chivy to 
find he had before him something very much 
more than the rearguard he had prophesied. 
Ney and Mortier were only just holding their 
own. As for Marmont, the strong west wind 
prevented any sounds of his action reaching the 
Emperor's ears. 

Had Bliicher, reinforcing Winzingerode and 
Biilow with the reserves of Sacken and Langeron, 
advanced boldly on his right, he would almost 
certainly have carried away the French left. But 
he, too, suffered under a delusion, believing 
Napoleon's attack to be only a feint, and that 
the main attack was coming by the Reims road. 
He accordingly moved his reserves leftwards. 

As soon as he realized the true state of affairs, 
Napoleon ordered Charpentier and Friant up to 

The country in which the Emperor stood was 
so wooded and marshy that there was little scope 
for anything but infantry. It was only where 
Winzingerode stood, north of Clacy, that the 
terrain was suitable for all arms. Napoleon, 
deciding to attack the allied right, would 
presently have available Charpentier and Friant 
(about 13,500 infantry), besides 3500 cavalry and 
106 guns which were of little value till Clacy was 
passed. It was 4.30 p.m. when Charpentier was 
ready. By 6.30 p.m. he had stormed the village 
from the south and east, but even here it was 
not possible to bring into action sufficient guns 
to oppose Winzingerode's powerful artillery. 

140 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

During Charpentier's attack on Clacy, Ney had 
failed once more to take Semilly, and Poret de 
Morvan, mortally wounded himself, was driven 
from Ardon. 

Darkness had fallen before, at 7 p.m., the 
fighting was over for the night, and the Emperor 
returned to Chavignon.* 

Mortier held Semilly with outposts in front 
from the Ardon brook to join P. Boyer who 
was in front of Semilly, with Meunier and 
Curial joining him to Charpentier at Clacy. 
Charpentier extended towards Laniscourt, along 
the right bank of the brook which flows at the 
foot of the hills from Molinchart to Clacy. 
Detachments of cavalry continued the line 
beyond Laniscourt. In reserve were Friant's 
Old Guard and Letort and Colbert at Chivy 
and Etouvelles. Exelmans and Grouvel returned 
to Chavignon with Napoleon. 

The allies were in close contact all along this 
line. They had a detachment in Bruyeres 
opposed to French cavalry in Nouvion-le-Vineux. 

The results of a desperate day's fighting had 
been practically nil. Beyond the capture of 
Etouvelles, Chivy and Clacy, Napoleon had 
gained nothing. But the battle on the opposite 
wing was by no means over. Marmont had 
encountered no real opposition up to Festieux, 
which he reached at 10 a.m. Here, though the 
west wind bore to him the sounds of Napoleon's 
battle, he waited for the mist to clear before 
resuming his advance half an hour after noon. 
After some fighting, he had taken Athies with 
Arrighi's division by 5 p.m. The enemy having 

Map III (f)and(c). 

Laon and Reims 141 

retired on Chambry, Marmont bivouacked for 
the night, and, at 7 p.m., without troubling to 
assure himself that the arrangements for pro- 
tection in presence of the enemy were satisfactory, 
he went off to spend the night at Eppes. 

A detachment of 600 infantry and 400 
cavalry, under Colonel Fabvier, was sent 
towards Bruyeres to establish communication 
with the Emperor. 

Marmont's front was in contact with the 
enemy on the line Sauvoir farm — Athies mill — 
Mannoise farm, but Arrighi's outposts were weak, 
very tired, and without special instructions. 
The guns in the park, south of Athies, were still 
unlimbered, as they had been at the end of the 
action, and no patrols were sent out to watch 
the enemy. Bordessoulle's cavalry, also insuffi- 
ciently protected, kept no watch on the numerous 
Prussian squadrons north-east of Athies. Every- 
where Marmont's troops were off their guard, 
the men warming themselves by the camp fires, 
for it was freezing and the plain was covered 
with snow. 

Marmont had scarcely reached Eppes at 7.30 
p.m., when Arrighi's two brigades were attacked 
by strong Prussian columns. The surprise was 
complete. Athies was taken, and the two 
battalions holding it cut up. Arrighi's whole 
division was soon in flight, and his guns could 
not be got away owing to their being unlimbered. 
Bordessoulle's men were scarcely mounted when 
the whole mass of Prussian cavalry fell upon 
them from the Athies-Eppes road. 

The French cavalry, completely broken, fled 
through the defeated infantry of Arrighi. Then 

142 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

the Prussian cavalry got ahead of the VI corps 
as it was making for Festieux, cutting off its 
retreat, killing the artillery and park horses, so 
that all Marmont's materiel was helpless. 

Marmont rejoined his troops and did his best 
to restore order. But nothing could prevent a 
general rout and flight towards Festieux, under 
constant fire from the Prussian infantry and 
artillery, and charges by their cavalry. 

The situation was relieved by two incidents : 
Colonel Fabvier, hearing that Mortier had lost 
Ardon, and also of the disaster to Marmont, was 
on his way back to Festieux by Veslud, which he 
reached about 10 p.m. He vigorously attacked 
the enemy who had reached the place. At the 
same time, the Prussian cavalry, trying to head 
off Marmont at Festieux, found there 100 veterans 
of the Old Guard, halted for the night on their 
way to the army. These old soldiers promptly 
organized a defence of the village with the aid of 
two of Marmont's guns which had escaped. The 
Prussians were beaten off, and, thanks to this 
and to Fabvier's diversion, the Prussian pursuit 
stopped at Maison Rouge. At Corbeny some 
sort of order was restored, but it was only at 
Berry-au-Bac that Marmont could commence 
reorganizing his column, which had lost 3500 
men, 45 out of 55 guns, 131 caissons, and most 
of its wheeled transport. Such was the dis- 
astrous " Hurrah d'Athies " as the French call 
this night surprise. Marmont must bear the 
whole responsibility for the neglect of protective 
arrangements which left his force in contact with 
a powerful enemy with outposts which, in addition 
to being weak, were much too close to the main 

Laon and Reims 143 

body which they covered. The marshal had 
failed to make any provision for a counter-attack 
in case of being attacked, and he had failed in his 
duty by seeking comfortable quarters in Eppes 
before assuring himself that all was well in front. 
Yet, for the whole failure on the 9th, a failure 
which would have resulted in disaster had the 
allies been commanded by a general of Napoleon's 
calibre, the blame must rest on the Emperor. 
His obstinate persistence in his belief that 
Bliicher was retreating northwards, leaving only 
a rearguard at Laon, led him to make his ex- 
tremely dangerous advance in two columns, 
separated by an almost impassable country. To 
realize the risk he ran, it is only necessary to 
think what he would have done himself had he 
and Bllicher changed places. He would pro- 
bably have realized that the attack on the western 
wing was the main one. He would have con- 
tained Marmont with Yorck and Kleist, and 
hurled the whole of the remaining 80,000 allies 
on the 30,000 of the French left. Who can doubt 
the result ? 

The fact was that Bllicher had a very 
exaggerated conception of Napoleon's strength, 
believing him to have 60,000 men. 

The blame attachable to Napoleon is not that 
he deliberately attacked an army of such strength 
that he could have no reasonable hope of victory, 
but that he persisted in a false hypothesis, accord- 
ing to which he was only going to have to do 
with the rear guard of a demoralized and retreat- 
ing army. We shall see something analogous 
to this a few days later at Arcis-sur-Aube. The 
credit for the design of the night attack appears 

144 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

to be due to Yorck, for the excellent execution 
of it to his troops. 

On the morning of the 10th Napoleon, before 
he knew of Marmont's disaster, had ordered a 
general attack by both columns, Marmont's and 
his own. He was by way of still believing in 
Bluchers retreat on Avesnes. When, at last, he 
was convinced regarding Marmont's defeat, he 
shifted his ground, and, maintaining that Blucher 
must have weakened his right and centre in 
order to strengthen his left against Marmont, held 
that, if he himself held firm, he would compel 
Blucher to abandon Laon, or, at the worst, to 
give up the pursuit of Marmont. 

Curiously enough, this desperate measure did 
have the effect which the Emperor had no reason- 
able right to expect. 

That it did so was mainly due to the physical 
breakdown of the Prussian Field-marshal. The 
old man, racked with fever, and rapidly becoming 
temporarily blind with ophthalmia, had with 
difficulty kept himself going at all on the 9th. 
At midnight he was still able to issue orders, 
sending Yorck and Kleist after Marmont on 
Berry-au-Bac, to pass the Aisne there, or, if the 
bridge there were broken, at Neufchatel higher 
up, to get into communication with St. Priest 
towards Reims, and to throw themselves on the 
right of the French army as it retreated on 
Fismes. Sacken was to follow to Corbeny, and 
thence pass the Aisne either at Berry-au-Bac 
or between it and Vailly. Langeron to go by 
Bruyeres to Heurtebise and the plateau of 
Craonne, awaiting orders there, but sending his 
pontoons on to Maizy to prepare a bridge over 

Laon and Reims 145 

the Aisne. He would receive orders later, 
according to circumstances, either to cross at 
Maizy and move on Braisne, or to march west- 
wards by the plateau on L'Ange Gardien. 
Btilow and Winzingerode to follow the Emperor. 

Had these orders been carried out, Napoleon 
would have been in an almost desperate situation ; 
but Bliicher had reached the end of his tether, 
and was compelled to delegate his command 
temporarily to Gneisenau. 

If Gneisenau was far superior to Blucher as 
a strategist, he lacked the strong personality of 
his chief, which had enabled him, since the union 
of the armies on the 4th, to keep in check the 
smouldering animosities and jealousies which 
existed, not only between Prussians and Russians, 
but even between the Prussians of Bulow and 
their fellow-countrymen of Blucher 's corps, whom 
they affected to consider as worn out and useless. 
Gneisenau's position was one of great responsi- 
bility, and, in the event of Bliicher's complete 
disablement for the command, he was liable at 
any moment to be superseded by the senior corps 
commander, who happened to be Langeron. 
Langeron's dread of being called to the responsi- 
bilities of chief command is shown by his rather 
brutal remark as he left Bliicher's sick chamber, 
" In God's name let us carry this corpse with us." 

Gneisenau, returning to Bliicher's observation 
post of the previous day, saw that the Emperor 
was not yet retreating. He dreaded the responsi- 
bility of carrying out the bold but undoubtedly 
correct manoeuvre ordered at midnight. Not- 
withstanding the remonstrances of the staff, he, 
about 8 a. m., cancelled those orders. Langeron 


146 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

and Sacken were now to hold fast till the enemy 
disclosed his intentions. Yorck and Kleist, 
pursuing Marmont with light cavalry only, were 
to stop at Corbeny. Biilow and Winzingerode 
were to prepare to meet the general attack which 
Napoleon seemed to be preparing. 

Gneisenau's hesitation and weakness saved 
Napoleon. The operations of the day may be 
briefly disposed of. Woronzow, advancing with 
infantry against Clacy, was as much unable to get 
into it in the face of the French artillery and 
infantry fire as Charpentier was unable to advance 
beyond it. The deadlock here continued till 
2 p.m., when Gneisenau decided to reinforce 
Woronzow by troops from Billow's corps which 
had hitherto stood idle in Laon. Napoleon, 
observing these movements, still affected to 
believe in the enemy's approaching retreat. 
Charpentier was ordered to break out from Clacy, 
Ney to attack Semilly once more, and Mortier to 
storm Ardon. Charpentier was soon stopped by 
the Russian fire, and Mortier equally failed before 
Ardon. Ney sent Curial forward against Semilly, 
which he succeeded in taking, and even pushed 
up the slopes of the hill of Laon. Thence, 
however, he was driven back through Semilly 
by a fearful artillery fire, and by a Prussian 
counter-attack with the bayonet. 

It was 4 p.m. when the reconnaissances of 
Drouot and Belliard at last convinced Napoleon, 
against his will, that the offensive was hopeless, 
and decided him to order the retreat on Soissons. 

Meanwhile, on the allies' side, Gneisenau's 
orders had been received by the corps com- 
manders with dismay. Yorck in particular 

Laon and Reims 147 

attributed them to Gneisenau's personal disagree- 
ment with him. One after another came envoys 
from Yorck and Kleist, including Grolmann 
(Kleist's Chief of staff), imploring permission to 
advance and cut off Napoleon from Soissons. 
The only result was that Gneisenau made his 
orders still harder to bear, by directing Kleist 
and Yorck to fall back on Athies. Every one, 
including Muffling, thought the cancellation of 
Bllicher's orders a fatal mistake ; but there was 
nothing for it but to obey. 

Thanks to Gneisenau's hesitation, Napoleon's 
retreat on Soissons was practically unmolested, 
and on the nth he was able to take up a position 
at and north of Soissons with the 24,000 men left 
him after the loss of some 6000 before Laon on 
his own wing. Marmont was reduced to little 
over 6000 men and 10 guns. He was at Berry - 
au-Bac on the 10th, but announced his intention 
of retreating on Fismes next day. He got there, 
but was met by an order from Napoleon to return 
at once to Berry-au-Bac, as he had only light 
troops facing him. 

Napoleon, in taking up an offensive position 
north of Soissons, hoped to draw the enemy on 
himself, relieving Marmont, and leaving the way 
open for the garrisons he had summoned from 
the fortresses of the Meuse and the Moselle to 
join that marshal. On the nth and 12th the 
Emperor was busy issuing orders for the defence 
of Soissons, for the march of the north-eastern 
garrisons, and to Broussier at Strasburg to 
break out, and, gathering up the garrisons in that 
neighbourhood, to harass Schwarzenberg's com- 
munications. Gneisenau's position, meanwhile, 

148 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

grew more and more difficult. The jealousies 
and quarrels, kept in check by Bliicher's person- 
ality, were now rampant ; the troops, very short 
of food, were marauding in all directions, and had 
to be widely scattered to subsist. On the evening 
of the 1 2th Biilowwas beyond La Fere, Langeron 
at Coucy-le- Chateau, Sacken at Chavignon, 
Winzingerode at Laon, Kleist at Bouconville, 
Yorck between Corbeny and Berry-au-Bac. 

Finally, Yorck, taking umbrage at the supposed 
personal animosity of Gneisenau against himself, 
took the extraordinary step of throwing up his 
command, on the ground of ill-health, and actually 
starting for Brussels. He was only stopped by a 
personal appeal from Bliicher. On this day (12th) 
St. Priest, from the direction of Chalons, retook 
Reims from the garrison of National Guards. 

When Napoleon heard of this he saw his way 
to an easy victory, which might to some extent 
restore his lost prestige. From all sides bad news 
was pouring in on him. Macdonald was retreating 
on Paris ; Augereau was falling back in the south ; 
Eugene in Italy was losing ground to Murat; 
the allies were on the point of breaking up the 
Congress of Chatillon, and had tightened the 
bond uniting themselves by the Treaty of Chau- 
mont; Paris was becoming daily more discon- 
tented, and everybody, the Regency included, 
was demanding peace on the allies' terms ; the 
National Guards in Paris had refused to join the 
army. Something must be done to restore con- 
fidence in the Emperor. Soissons was already 
in a position for defence, thanks to the energy of 
Gerard,* the new commandant. 

* Not to be confused with the leader of the II corps. 

Laon and Reims 149 

Before starting, as he now proposed, for the 
recapture of Reims, Napoleon had to reorganize 
the shattered remains of his army. 

To Sebastiani were given the cavalry divisions 
of Colbert and Letort, with which he was to march 
in the night of the 12th- 13th to Braisne. Ney, 
with the remains of P. Boyer's single brigade and 
two other regiments,* was also to start at once, so 
as to be before Reims early on the 1 3th. Mortier 
was left about Soissons with the divisions of 
Charpentier, Boyer de Rebeval, Curial, Poret de 
Morvan, Christiani, and Meunier, and the cavalry 
of R. d'Urbal, Pac, and a regiment of miscellaneous 
squadrons. The Emperor estimated Mortier's 
strength at 8000 or 9000 infantry and 4000 
cavalry. The garrison of Soissons, if Mortier 
had to leave it, was to be 1500 men, including 
some 400 or 500 lame men of the Guard. 

Friant was to march in the early morning for 
Reims. Marmont also to march at 6 a.m. with 
his own command and Defrance, who had escaped 
from Reims,f leaving a rearguard at Berry-au- 
Bac. He would be the advance guard. 

St. Priest, meanwhile, had no suspicion of the 
storm which was about to burst on him. Even 
when Bordessoulle and Defrance, followed by 
Ricard's infantry, drove in his advanced troops, 
he did not awake to the situation, and took up a 
bad position west of Reims, with the city and the 
Vesle behind him. It was 4 p.m. before the 
Emperor was up in full force. Then St. Priest 
recognized, from the vigour of the attack led by 

* The 122nd just arrived from Paris and the Regiment of the 
Vistula, the former garrison of Soissons. 
t Corr. 21,475. 

150 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

Marmont, supported by Ney, Friant, and Letort, 
that he had to deal with Napoleon in person. As 
he was organizing his retreat, he was mortally 
wounded by a round shot.* Nothing could resist 
the French attack, and, though Marmont was 
delayed in taking the Soissons gate of the city, the 
remains of St. Priest's corps was driven to Berry- 
au-Bac which it reached in the morning of the 14th. 
It had suffered a loss of 3000 men and 23 guns. A 
few considerations of time and space will serve to 
show that this operation against Reims was carried 
out with all the energy of Napoleon's best days. 
From Soissons to Reims by Fismes is about forty- 
three miles. Napoleon's orders to Berthier are 
dated 6 p.m. on the 12th. Allowing for issue of 
separate orders, etc., it is hardly possible that Ney's 
infantry could have started before 8 p.m. Within 
twenty hours they were ready for battle at a 
distance which may be taken as about equal to 
that from Paddington to Pangbourne. Still more 
remarkable was Friant's feat ; for he was to start 
only at 2 a.m. on the 13th, and in fourteen hours 
he had covered forty miles. 

The attack on St. Priest was a surprise, and, 
though Napoleon had between 20,000 and 25,000 
men coming up, he appears only to have had to 
engage 8000 or 10,000 against St. Priest's 14,500. 
It was the assembly with such rapidity of 
Napoleon's troops that was the triumph. 
Gneisenau had just declared such a move to 
be beyond the capabilities of the French. 

In addition to the political effects in Paris of 

* Napoleon says the gunner who fired the shot was the same 
as he who had killed Moreau at Dresden, which may or may not be 
true. Corr. 21,478. 

Laon and Reims 151 

this victory, it had placed Napoleon across the 
communications between the two allied armies. 

Having arrived at the conclusion of a distinct 
manoeuvre, the second since Brienne against 
Blucher, it will be convenient to take the oppor- 
tunity to make some remarks on it. The first 
thing to be noticed is Napoleon's reluctance, in 
the end of February, to believe that Blucher could 
be moving on Paris. Perhaps the greatest 
mistake he made in this campaign was in under- 
estimating the determination and the energy of 
the Prussian Field-marshal, and the capacity of his 
staff. Napoleon was never very far wrong in his 
estimate of Schwarzenberg, but he seems to have 
failed to recognize fully how very different an 
opponent Blucher was. If the latter was always 
ready to obey orders loyally when they reached 
him, he rejoiced when he found himself so far 
separated from headquarters that he could not be 
harassed with them. In such circumstances, he 
could give rein to his own energetic ideas. He 
had gained a great start before Napoleon began 
his movement. He had lost much of it when the 
Emperor reached Chateau-Thierry, but he once 
more regained some of it when Napoleon was 
hung up on the left bank of the Marne from want 
of the means of passage. Napoleon, at this 
period, was constantly complaining of the want of 
a pontoon train. It certainly deprived him of 
many chances. 

Marmont and Mortier had done extremely 
well with their small force on the Ourcq, but 
nevertheless, by the evening of the 3rd March 
Napoleon had no longer any chance of prevent- 
ing Blucher from crossing the Aisne, or of cutting 

152 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

him off, as he had hoped to do when he was close 
on his heels at Chateau-Thierry. 

He knew that Bliicher had been joined by 
Winzingerode and must exceed himself in 
numerical strength by at least 50 per cent. He 
did not know that Biilow also was in touch, and 
that Bliicher had now more than double his 

Henceforward Napoleon allowed imagination 
to master facts. He kept persuading himself, 
without any sufficient grounds, that Bliicher was 
in full flight northwards, that he would be able to 
drive the army of Silesia beyond Laon, and, by 
re-arming that place and Soissons, to prevent its 
approaching Paris, whilst he went off to pick up 
his garrisons, and to attack Schwarzenberg in 
conjunction with Macdonald. Again he misjudged 
both the resources and the energy of Bliicher. 
He had to abandon his advance by the Reims 
road in order to fight the battle of Craonne 
against Woronzow, who might be the rearguard 
in Bluchers retreat on Laon, or, on the other 
hand, might be the advanced guard of an east- 
ward march. When, next day, he found 
Bliicher retreating on Laon, he once more 
deluded himself with the idea that he would find 
nothing but a rearguard at Laon. The resistance 
incurred by Ney at Etouvelles might have given 
him pause, but again on the 9th we find him 
keeping back his main body at Chavignon, whilst 
Ney and Mortier on the one side, Marmont 
on the other, advanced concentrically, hopelessly 
separated from one another, to sweep away the 
supposed rearguard and surprise Laon. The sur- 
prise was all the other way, for the Emperor found 

Laon and Reims 153 

hew as opposed, not to a rearguard, but to the whole 
of Bliicher's army. Even on the 10th he at first 
seems to have thought he could compel Blucher 
to leave Laon, and it was only later in the day 
that he continued the action merely with the 
object of showing a bold front and preventing the 
general advance which must have ruined him. 
His resolution is admirable, and it had the effect 
of imposing on the allies as he hoped. Still, that 
he was able to hold on at Soissons till he marched 
thence on Reims was largely due to Bliicher's 
illness, and Gneisenau's inaction consequent 
thereon. Had Yorck and Kleist been allowed to 
follow up Marmont, and to gather in St. Priest 
when they had crossed the Aisne at Berry-au-Bac, 
the movement on Reims would have been impos- 
sible, and Napoleon must have been forced to 
retreat, either on Paris, or towards Macdonald at 

Bliicher's conduct of the campaign is highly 
commended by Clausewitz and Muffling. If he 
made a serious mistake, it was in waiting too 
long at Chateau-Thierry, and in trying to deal 
a blow at Marmont and Mortier on the Ourcq 
with Kleist's insufficient force. He would 
perhaps have been wiser, once he found 
Napoleon was on his heels, to concentrate 
his energies on joining Winzingerode and Biilow, 
with whose strength added to his own he would 
have been in a position to advance without fear, 
and at the moment that suited him best, against 
Napoleon's greatly inferior army. His separa- 
tion from Schwarzenberg in the beginning of 
February has been severely criticized by Clause- 
witz. At that time, Bliicher, with a little over 

154 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

50,000 men, including all the reinforcements he 
was likely to receive for the present, was going 
off alone with the possibility of being followed 
by Napoleon with forces not much inferior. In 
the end of February it was quite different ; for 
he would be able to join reinforcements bringing 
him up to over 100,000 men, a force greater 
than Napoleon could oppose to him and to 



NAPOLEON, having re-taken Reims 
on the 13th March, spent the three 
following days there in organizing 
his next movement. Gneisenau was 
still playing a role of complete inactivity at Laon, 
and thereby affording the Emperor the breathing 
space he badly required. We know that the 
Emperor's design now was to gather up his 
eastern and north-eastern garrisons, and with 
them to return upon Schwarzenberg. Of these, 
Janssens, with 3000 men from the Ardennes 
garrisons, was able to join Ney as that marshal 
marched from Reims to Chalons, which latter fell 
into his hands without resistance. On the other 
side, Colbert drove Tettenborn from Epernay, 
whence he had recently been operating by raids 
on Napoleon's rear. 

The Emperor would fain have gone off 
at once to meet the garrisons in Lorraine, but, 
unfortunately for him, Schwarzenberg had, during 
the manoeuvre against Bliicher, pushed Mac- 
donald so far on the road to Paris that, if 
Napoleon went eastwards, the allies might be 
in Paris before he could return. He saw that 
Schwarzenberg must first be brought back east- 
wards, and he was in some doubt as to how to do 
it best. 

156 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

The plan he eventually decided on was to 
leave Marmont and Mortier with about 21,000 
men to contain Bliicher, whilst he himself moved 
against Schwarzenberg. For this purpose he 
would have some 24,000, including 4500 re- 
inforcements about to reach him from Paris 
under Lefebvre-Desnoettes.* He had three 
possible directions in which to march : (1) On 
Arcis-sur-Aube, so as to reach Troyes in 
Schwarzenberg's rear on the 20th ; (2) on 
Provins, to join Macdonald in front of 
Schwarzenberg ; (3) direct on Meaux. He 
decided on the first, rejecting the second sum- 
marily on account of its bad cross-roads, and 
the third because he held it to have no advantage 
beyond bringing him close to Paris. The first 
he chose because " it is the boldest, and its 
results are incalculable." 

Before following his movement, we must 
recount briefly what had happened to Mac- 
donald and his lieutenant, Oudinot, since we 
left them on the 26th February. Oudinot, on 
the 26th February, had not acted with much 
intelligence. His orders were to "move on Bar- 
sur-Aube." They reached him at Vendceuvre, 
and it is by no means clear why he should have 
gone round by Dolancourt instead of direct. He 
was pursuing a very superior enemy, and it was 
certainly not his duty to contemplate a pitched 
battle. The enemy might turn back against him 
at any moment, in which case his duty would be 
to delay a fresh advance by retiring fighting. 
There was nothing in his orders to require him 

* Napoleon expected 11,000, but 3000 infantry and 1500, 
cavalry were all that reached him. 

Arcis-sur-Aube 157 

to carry the greater part of his army across the 
Aube, and he was certainly bound to take a 
position for the night which would not be open 
to surprise. He would have done well to remain 
behind the Aube, with a strong rearguard in 
Bar-sur-Aube,* employing Kellermann's cavalry 
to obtain " beaucoup de nouvelles," as the 
Emperor's orders required. Instead of that, he 
kept half his cavalry at Spoy for facilities of 
forage ; he had four divisions of infantry in the 
valley on the right bank, with the Aube close 
behind them, whilst Pacthod was at Dolancourt 
and Duhesme at Bar. There was little to watch 
the hills above the valley, nothing to watch the 
forest of Sevigny, by which his left might be 
turned, and he had most of his artillery behind 
the river. He had full warning of the proba- 
bility of an offensive return in an attack by the 
Bavarians on Bar in the evening, and in informa- 
tion brought in by the inhabitants. 

Despite all Napoleon's precautions, Schwar- 
zenberg seems to have realized that the Emperor 
was leaving his front. Bliicher had written to 
the King of Prussia, on the 25th, that Napoleon 
was about to move against himself, leaving only 
two corps in front of Schwarzenberg. The letter 
seems to have been written in the hope of 
stopping the retreat of the army of Bohemia ; for 
Bliicher could not know what Napoleon had not 
really yet decided. The letter had its effect ; for 
Schwarzenberg decided to attack Oudinot on the 
27th, holding him in front with Wrede towards 
Bar, whilst Wittgenstein turned his left. Into 

* The Emperor's orders of next morning show that this is what 
Oudinot was meant to do. 

158 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

the details of the battle we need not enter. The 
end of it was that Oudinot was badly beaten, 
with a loss of 3500 men. He had 27,500 men 
available against 26,000 allies, but, owing to his 
faulty position, he could only bring 18,000 into 
action. The only marvel was that he escaped so 
lightly, and was able to fall back towards Troyes, 
a movement which, of course, entailed a retreat 
of Macdonald on the same place. By the night 
of the 4th March Schwarzenberg had again 
occupied Troyes. Macdonald was suffering 
severely from the gradual dissolution of his 
army by sickness, desertion, and straggling. 
By the 17th March the 42,000 men left by 
Napoleon (including Oudinot's command) had 
dwindled to 30,000. At Troyes Schwarzenberg 
again stopped till the 12th March. On the 10th 
the Tsar, resenting Schwarzenberg's inaction, 
had sent for him to Chaumont. Schwarzenberg, 
who knew nothing of what had happened in 
Bllicher's direction, submitted a long memo- 
randum, setting forth three hypotheses : (1) That 
part of Napoleon's army had been beaten by 
Bllicher, and the Emperor was voluntarily falling 
back on Paris ; (2) Napoleon, having beaten 
Bllicher, was marching against the right of the 
Bohemian army by Chalons ; (3) Napoleon, 
having fought no great battle, was marching as 
above. It was only on the nth, just as Schwar- 
zenberg left Chaumont, that news of the battle 
of Craonne arrived from St. Priest. 

Schwarzenberg was in a pitiful state of 
hesitation. " I have no news," he wrote on the 
1 2th March, "and I avow that I tremble. If 
Bllicher suffers a defeat, how can I give battle 

Arcis-sur-Aube 159 

myself ; for, if I am beaten, what a triumph for 
Napoleon, and what a humiliation for the 
Sovereigns to have to repass the Rhine 
at the head of a beaten army ! " * So long 
as he was ignorant of what had happened to 
Bliicher, he dared not advance on Paris, ex- 
posing his right and his long line of communi- 
cations to a return of a possibly victorious 

It was only on the 14th that a serious attempt 
was made to drive Macdonald from behind the 
Seine, when Wrede bombarded Bray and 
Rajewski.f crossing at Pont-sur-Seine, marched 
on Villenauxe. 

That night came news of the battle of Laon, 
and for the next day or two Schwarzenberg acted 
with somewhat more energy, so that on the 
evening of the 16th Macdonald stood with the 
main body of his army behind Provins, with 
Pacthod at Montereau, and Allix and Souham J 
on the Loing. 

Here Schwarzenberg's advance stopped, in 
consequence of news just received of St. Priest's 
defeat at Reims, and the re-occupation of Chalons 
by Napoleon's troops. 

Allied headquarters at this time were any- 
thing but a happy family. The freedom with 
which Schwarzenberg was criticized, by the 
Russians especially, is shown by a letter to 
Toll from an aide-de-camp of the Tsar in 
which he speaks of the commander-in-chief as, 
"cette malheureuse verdure, ou plutot ordure 

* Janson, II., 220. 

f Commanding the VI corps vice Wittgenstein retired. 

% Souham commanded a weak force of newly formed troops. 

160 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

viennoise." * Yet the Tsar himself was in such a 
disturbed and uncertain state of mind as to lead 
Wolkonski to write confidentially to Toll : " In 
a word, we do not know what we want. For the 
love of God calm us, reassure us. I am wasting 
all my time in writing in every direction." f On 
the 1 6th Schwarzenberg had issued no less than 
three different sets of general orders. Yet he had 
not lost his head as much as some others. He did 
not believe, with Radetzky, that Napoleon had 
been decisively defeated at Laon, and that it was 
only necessary to advance on Reims in order to 
crush him between the two armies. He equally 
did not believe Napoleon was retreating on Paris. 
In his uncertainty he came to a wise decision, 
to concentrate at Arcis-sur-Aube and Troyes, a 
central position whence he could move in any 
direction when the situation was clearer. 

On the 17th Schwarzenberg began to draw 
his troops together towards Troyes and Arcis. 
On the 1 8th he undid this and ordered his army 
thus : 

V corps on the right bank of the Aube 
beyond Arcis, occupying Fere Champenoise, and 
sending advanced guards to Sommesous and 
Mailly. The Guards and Reserves to descend 
the right bank towards Dommartin and Donne- 

VI corps to concentrate on the left bank of 
the Aube, a march which it was not likely to be 
able to complete in the day. 

Ill and IV corps, Seslawin, and M. Lich ten- 
stein to return to the Seine and Yonne. 

The fact appears to be that certain reports, 

* Bernhardi, " Toll." V. 422. f Ibid. 

Arcis-sur-Aube 161 

from Tettenborn and from the commandant of 
Vitry, induced Schwarzenberg to believe that 
Napoleon was about to move again against 
Bliicher. That such was his belief is stated by 
Lord Burghersh * and Toll.f He, therefore, 
contemplated containing Macdonald with the III 
and IV corps, Seslawin, and M. Lichtenstein, 
whilst, with the rest of the army, he marched 
from the Aube against the Emperor's rear as he 
moved on Laon. 

When Schwarzenberg was developing this 
plan, Napoleon was already well on his way 
southwards in two columns. J He had reached 
Epernay the night before with the right, and now 
marched by Vertus on Fere Champenoise, whilst 
Ney with the left moved by Vatry on Sommesous. 
During the 18th Schwarzenberg's advanced 
cavalry was met by both columns and driven 
back. The commander-in-chief had already 
issued orders for the 19th for a concentration of 
the V and VI corps, and the Guards and Reserves 
north of Arcis, when Kaissarow reported the 
repulse of his cavalry, and that Napoleon 
himself was moving south. The news created 
consternation at allied headquarters. Schwarzen- 
berg being in bed with gout, the Tsar came over 
to see him at Arcis. After a somewhat heated 
interview, orders were issued for Wrede to 
recross at once to the left bank of the Aube, to 
defend the passage on the 19th, and to echelon 
his troops from Arcis to Pougy. The III, IV 
and VI corps were to fall back on Troyes, leaving 

* " Memoir of Operations, etc.," p. 206. 

f Weil, III. 389. 

i Positions evening of 17th. Map III (g). 


1 62 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

Seslawin to guard the passages at Nogent and 
Bray as far as possible against Macdonald who 
had begun to advance again when he felt the 
relaxation of pressure. 

The Guards and Reserves were to fall back 
on the right bank of the Aube to behind the 
Voire, remaining thereon the 19th, whilst Wrede, 
defended the Aube from Arcis to Lesmont. On 
the 20th, when Wrede got to Lesmont, they 
would fall back on Trannes and Maisons. Wrede, 
still leaving parties to watch the enemy on the 
Aube, would retire by Dienville. Headquarters 
would be at Pougy on the 19th, and Bar-sur-Aube 
on the 20th. 

On the evening of the 18th the VI corps had 
reached Mery, but still had Eugen of Wiirtem- 
berg's division at Pont-sur-Seine, and Pahlen 
near Provins. Wrede was just passing to the 
left bank of the Aube at Arcis. The IV corps 
was also at Mery, with rearguard at Nogent ; 
where was the III corps. Seslawin was about 
Sens and Pont-sur-Yonne. M. Lichtenstein at 
Tonnerre. Guards and Reserves behind the 
Voire with light cavalry in front of it. Napoleon's 
idea on the evening of the 17th seems to have 
been to march on Arcis, sending Macdonald back 
to join Marmont and Mortier against Blticher.* 
On the 1 8th, when he found Wrede in front of 
him towards Arcis, he decided to cross the Aube 
at Plancy, and try to catch between two fires the 
troops facing Macdonald, who was to join himself. 
After that, he could resume operations against 
Schwarzenberg's right. He now, at last, had a 
bridge train, and he hoped to cross the Aube at 

* Weil, III. 403. 

Arcis-sur- Aube 163 

Plancy at 11 a.m. on the 19th, the Seine at Mery 
later in the day. 

Schwarzenberg was intent on retreating on 
Bar-sur-Aube, but, as the III, IV and VI corps 
were still far from Wrede and the Guards and 
Reserves, it was necessary for Wrede to hold 
fast on the Aube during the 19th, thus covering 
the retreat of the left wing on Troyes. 

Wrede, watching the Aube from Arcis to 
Lesmont, below which place all bridges had been 
broken, had fortified Arcis. Connecting him 
with the VI corps at Mery was Kaissarow's 

Everything being quiet on the Aube in 
the morning of the 19th, Schwarzenberg believed 
that Napoleon was making for Brienne and 
the communications of the army of Bohemia, 
and that this movement would be accompanied 
by an advance of Macdonald direct on Troyes. 
But presently his views were changed when, 
about 2 p.m., Sebastiani, forcing the passage 
of the Aube at Plancy, began to prepare bridges 
for infantry and artillery. Kaissarow was forced 
back on Pouan, where he was faced by Colbert 
and Exelmans who, however, made no serious 
attempt to cross the Barbuisse brook.* Mean- 
while, the Emperor himself went with two 
divisions of cavalry towards Mery, where Letort 
forded the Seine and captured a fine bridge train 
beyond it. 

In consequence of Sebastiani's movement, 
Wrede moved his infantry somewhat forward, 
so that it held the left bank of the Aube 
from Pougy to Pouan. 

* Positions evening of 19th. Map III (h). 

164 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

Schwarzenberg was led by these movements 
to believe that Napoleon had sent Sebastiani 
to cover the real main movement by M6ry on 
Troyes. The conclusion was wrong, but it led 
him to a change of plan which was destined 
to have momentous results, disastrous results 
for Napoleon. Schwarzenberg, convinced that his 
right and rear were no longer threatened, now 
decided to reverse his movement of retreat, to 
concentrate his army between Troyes and Arcis, 
and to undertake the offensive against Napoleon 
in the angle of the Seine and Aube. 

Orders issued, at 9 p.m., for the Crown Prince 
of Wurtemberg to take command of the III, IV 
and VI corps, to leave some troops to watch the 
Seine about Troyes, and to reach Charmont at 
9 a.m. on the 20th, where he would await orders. 
Wrede was to move towards Plancy, linked to 
Wurtemberg on his left by cavalry. Barclay 
with the Guards and Reserves was to come over 
to the left bank at Lesmont, into the country 
behind Mesnil Lettre. 

That night (19th) Napoleon was at Plancy. 
He had Sebastiani facing Pouan, Letort's and 
Berckheim's cavalry beyond the Seine, the 
Guard infantry on both banks of the Aube at 
Plancy. Ney was on the north bank, with 
Defrance watching Arcis. Macdonald was still 
on the right bank of the Seine, from Bray to 
Pont-sur-Seine, Pacthod at Montereau, Souham 
and Allix on the Loing. Macdonald's cavalry 
was forward in the bend of the Seine. 

Of the allied army, the IV and VI corps 
were on the right bank of the Seine opposite 
Troyes, the III on the left bank. Seslawin 

Arcis-sur-Aube 165 

was some way behind, and only reached Troyes 
in the afternoon of the 20th. 

It has been assumed that Napoleon deliber- 
ately sought the battle of Arcis, a battle in which 
he was to find the small force he had brought 
from Reims pitted against the greater part of the 
army of Bohemia. Even when Macdonald was 
able to join him he would be greatly inferior in 
numbers. That was not his intention at all, 
as is clearly shown by his correspondence. 

So far, the enemy had retreated more rapidly 
than he expected, and, as seemed to be shown 
by the feeble resistance he encountered on the 
19th at Plancy and M£ry, Schwarzenberg 
appeared to be retreating rapidly on Brienne and 
Bar-sur-Aube. This disappointed the Emperor's 
hopes of falling on the centre of Schwarzenberg's 
scattered line of retreat, as he had fallen on 
Blucher's advance at Champaubert. The enemy's 
concentration seemed to be completed, and it 
would have been madness to march against their 
vast superiority of numbers if they were holding 
there, which seemed very improbable. 

The results of the Emperor's movement 
by Plancy on the 19th appeared to be : 

(1) It had hurried Schwarzenberg's retreat 
towards Langres. 

(2) It had thus disengaged Macdonald and 
saved Paris. 

(3) It had opened the way for Macdonald to 
join Napoleon. 

The Emperor was still intent on gathering up 
the garrisons, an operation for which he would 
require at least a week, during which he could 
meet them by Vitry. During that week he must 

1 66 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

feel safe against a fresh advance of Schwarzenberg 
on Paris, which would be completely unguarded 
on this side. With that time at his disposal, 
he could call up Marmont and Mortier (20,000), 
Macdonald (30,000), his own 24,000, forces which, 
added to the garrisons, would give him quite 
90,000 men, a force with which he might well 
hope to send Schwarzenberg back across the 
Rhine and then return against Bliicher. From his 
positions of the evening of the 19th, he might 
march at once for Vitry ; but that would have the 
unfortunate effect of encouraging Schwarzenberg 
to believe the Emperor was retreating, and 
inducing him to advance again on Paris. 

What Napoleon wanted to do was to first give 
a further impulse to Schwarzenberg's retreat, 
which he believed to be in full swing. He could 
hope to do this by moving up both banks of the 
Aube to Arcis, where, by the double advance, he 
would secure the passage, bring back what he had 
on the left bank to the right, and be able to march 
on Vitry, followed by Macdonald, with the full 
assurance that Schwarzenberg was off to Langres. 
His belief as to Schwarzenberg's intentions was 
right up to the evening of the 19th, when the 
Austrian suddenly made up his mind to resume 
the offensive.* 

What Napoleon's intentions were is shown 
by his letter to Clarke of the 20th. j " I am going 
to march on Brienne. I shall neglect Troyes, and 
shall betake myself in all haste to my fortresses. 

* There seems to be no doubt that Schwarzenberg alone was 
responsible for this change. It was the best thing he did in the 
campaign. Looking to his previous hesitations, it was perhaps 
the last thing to be expected of him. 

f Corr. 21,526. 

Arcis-sur-Aube 167 

The line of the army (line of operations) should, 
it seems to me, be by Sezanne." Later, he says 
he is starting for Vitry,* appearing to abandon 
the idea of giving a final push to Schwarzenberg 
by Brienne. 

None of his early orders of the 20th indicate 
any idea of a battle at Arcis. He neither expected 
nor desired it, and he only moved Ney and the 
cavalry by the left bank, (1) in order to facilitate 
the movement, and, (2) in order to drive Wrede's 
rearguard from Arcis, thereby giving fresh 
impulse to the retreat, and securing the Arcis 
bridge in co-operation with Defrance and 
Friant on the north bank, and without the diffi- 
culty and delay which must occur in an attack 
from the north only. There can be little doubt 
that Schwarzenberg's sudden change to the 
offensive must have taken the Emperor quite by 
surprise. Hitherto, once the army of Bohemia 
started retreating before Napoleon, it had only 
stopped when he was no longer in front of it in 
person. The actual course of events shows how 
dangerous it is to rely on the presumed conduct 
even of an enemy who has hitherto displayed 
constant timidity and irresolution. 

The French advance by the left bank of the 
Aube on the morning of the 20th progressed 
at first without serious difficulty. Before 1 1 a.m. 
Sebastiani was in Arcis, from which Wrede's 
advanced troops had fallen back, and had begun 
repairing the bridge, which was only slightly 
damaged. Ney followed him, and his orders to 
his troops, " to pass to the right bank of the Aube 
as soon as the bridge is restored," 7 show that 

* Corr. 21,528. Map III (i). f Weil, III. 429. 

1 68 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

a battle on the left bank was not contemplated. 
His cavalry was to reconnoitre towards L'Huitre 
and Ramerupt on the right bank. 

Meanwhile, Schwarzenberg had issued orders 
aiming at setting up a line with Wrede on the 
right about St. Nabord, and the three corps of 
the left wing extending to Voue, with cavalry 
protecting their left. The advance would be 
ordered, about 11 a.m., to proceed due west across 
the Barbuisse brook, in the expectation of catch- 
ing Napoleon in the midst of a flank march on 
Mery, and cutting him from his bridge at Plancy. 

But the Crown Prince, reaching the level of 
Charmont about 1 1 a.m. with his three corps, 
which were much fatigued with recent long 
marches, understood that the general objective 
was Plancy. To save having to cross the marshy 
Barbuisse, he bore leftwards on Premierfait, thus 
separating himself completely from the right of 
the army of Bohemia, which was deprived for 
the whole day of his help. This, and the fact that 
the French had advanced along the Aube on 
Arcis, instead of crossing the angle of the Aube 
and Seine from Plancy to Mery, completely 
upset Schwarzenberg's scheme. 

About midday, Wrede stood with his right 
thrown forward towards St. Nabord and Torcy- 
le-Petit, and his left extending towards Voue, 
whilst Wurtemberg was marching away towards 
Premierfait. Wrede's left was covered by cavalry. 
The Tsar and the King of Prussia had now 
joined Schwarzenberg at Mesnil Lettre. The 
former had been surprised by Schwarzenberg's 
change to the offensive, and, somewhat incon- 
sistently with his former views, did not approve 

Arcis-sur-Aube 169 

it. He now believed that Napoleon was only 
amusing the allies on the south bank of the Aube, 
whilst he marched by the north bank, by Brienne, 
against their communications towards Bar-sur- 
Aube. Alexander was very short, almost dis- 
courteous, in his treatment of the unfortunate 

It was 1 p.m. when Napoleon reached Arcis. 
The rolling downs which surround Arcis on 
the left bank prevented his seeing anything of 
the great army which was in the folds behind 
them, and he obstinately refused credence to 
the stories of Ney, Sebastiani, and the country 
folk of an advance of important forces, where 
he believed there was only a rearguard. He 
preferred to accept the report of an officer 
whom he sent out, and who returned, without 
having gone far enough to see, saying he had 
only seen 1000 cossacks. Confirmed by this in 
his preconceived notions, the Emperor rode to 
Torcy-le-Grand where Ney was. 

At 2 p.m. Schwarzenberg, though he knew 
his left wing was out of reach towards Premierfait, 
gave the signal for the general attack which was 
to have been given at 1 1 a.m. Wrede's right 
(Volkmann) advanced against Torcy-le-Grand, 
whilst the powerful cavalry on his left went 
forward against the west side of Arcis. 

This mass of cavalry was met by Sebastiani 
with Colbert in first line. Colbert was driven 
back on Exelmans whose men broke, and the 
whole of Sebastiani's panic-stricken cavalry fled 
with the cry of M sauve qui peut " towards the 
bridge at Arcis. There they met, and nearly 
rode over, the Emperor who, with a few infantry. 

170 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

stood at the approach to the bridge. It was only 
by immense personal exertion and appeals that 
he at last succeeded in restoring some order, and 
again sending forward the terrified cavalry. 

Napoleon's position was most critical. He 
could only just hold on at Arcis with the few 
infantry he had, and it was only the arrival at the 
double over the bridge of Friant's leading troops, 
from the right bank, that saved him. 

Ney, meanwhile, was fighting a desperate 
battle at Torcy-le-Grand. The village was taken 
and retaken time after time ; Ney was actually 
falling back on Arcis when a reinforcement of 
three Guard battalions restored the fight. Wrede, 
too, had reinforced Volkmann, and the struggle 
continued with the utmost fury. When Milora- 
dowitch came up with 1 700 of the Russian Guard, 
night had fallen, and Ney succeeded in holding 
the village, where he was heavily bombarded by 
the Russian guns. 

Whilst all this was occurring on the allied 
right, Wurtemberg had met Letort's cavalry, 
trying to get back from Mery to Arcis, and driven 
it back into Mery and across the Seine in disorder. 
The Crown Prince stopped for the night beyond 
the Barbuisse about Premierfait. The fight on 
Wrede's front also died gradually away. 

But there was still another fight. Napoleon 
had been joined on his right by 2000 cavalry of 
Lefebvre-Desnoettes, who had had to leave 
Hanrion with his worn-out infantry at Plancy. 
The Emperor now added this cavalry to 
Sebastiani's, which had been all day engaged with 
Kaissarow's, and sent the whole forward against 
the enemy's cavalry between the Barbuisse and 

Arcis-sur- Aube 171 

the road to Troyes. Sebastiani's charge in the 
dark was magnificent. Kaissarow went down 
before him, involving some Bavarian cavalry in 
his flight. Then, turning to his left, Sebastiani 
bore down Frimont's cavalry, and was on the 
point of falling on the left of Wrede's infantry 
when he was at last stopped by the fire of artillery, 
and of a Russian grenadier regiment. Then, 
charged by fresh Russian and Prussian cavalry 
supported by Frimont's rallied horsemen, he was 
forced back, though by no means in disorder, to 
behind Nozay where he spent the night. His 
men had nobly redeemed their panic of the 

That night the allied army occupied a great 
semicircle in front of Arcis, from Premierfait, 
through Voue and Mesnil la Comtesse, to 

Napoleon's small force stood on the line 
Villette - Arcis - Torcy-le-Grand, waiting for 
Macdonald who had Oudinot between Boulages 
and Anglure, with cavalry at Plancy ; Gerard and 
Molitor * about the mouth of the Aube. Pacthod 
was still at Montereau ; Souham at Pont-sur- 
Yonne ; Allix at Sens. 

The day's fighting had cost the allies over 
2000 men against a French loss of probably 
rather less. They had gained no ground, and 
had failed to destroy the small force which 
Napoleon had available. 

In order to understand Napoleon's conduct 
in the ensuing night and on the following morning, 
it is necessary to realize that he was suffering 
again, as he had before Laon, from the fatal 

* XI corps, less Amey's division left at Bray. 

172 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

delusion that the enemy was in full retreat. He 
still believed that he had only been fighting 
Wrede, who was covering the retreat of the rest 
of the army. When, in the evening, he heard of 
the presence of the enemy towards Premierfait, 
it seems probable that he took this for the tail 
end of the army in retreat, and believed that 
Wrede had fought so strenuously to cover its 
march towards Bar-sur-Aube. Had Napoleon 
not obstinately refused to listen to every report 
which depicted him as opposed to an immense 
force, it can hardly be doubted that he would 
have, in the night, placed himself in safety behind 
the Aube. Thence he might have operated with 
his own force up the right bank towards Lesmont 
and Brienne, leaving Macdonald, as he arrived, 
to take over the defence of the lower Aube. We 
know that the Tsar feared such a movement, and, 
under these circumstances, Schwarzenberg would 
probably have been compelled to retreat in all 
haste on Bar. The Tsar knew that there was 
nothing on the right bank to oppose the Emperor, 
except Osarowski's light cavalry of the Russian 
Guard, and Napoleon might well succeed in 
destroying the Lesmont bridge before the Guard 
infantry, which was the nearest to it, could get 
back there. 

As it was, the allies, as well as Napoleon, 
seem to have misunderstood the position, and to 
have believed that he sought a decisive battle on 
the left bank. 

During the night, Napoleon sent urgent 
orders to Macdonald to hurry up on Arcis with 
all his forces. 

Schwarzenberg issued orders for the next day 

Arcis-sur- Aube 173 

at 1 1 p.m., but somehow it happened that those 
for the left wing only reached the Crown Prince 
at 5 a.m., the hour when it was intended that he 
should be in line on Wrede's left, the whole filling 
the space from the Aube near Vaupoisson on the 
right through Mesnil la Comtesse to Voue on 
the Barbuisse, with cavalry covering its left 
beyond the brook. As it was, the position was 
not reached till ioara. There had been delay 
in the Crown Prince's march ; for the French 
cavalry had attacked Pahlen near Nozay, and had 
compelled the Prince to protect the flank march 
of the III, and IV corps with the VI, and to place 
that corps on his left, instead of on his right as 
had been ordered, and would naturally have been 
done. The III became his right, and, as it was 
weak, owing to part being left at Troyes and on 
the Seine, cavalry had to be used to fill the space 
between its right and Wrede's left. 

Schwarzenberg's position was very difficult, 
since the Tsar had plainly shown his disapproval 
of the offensive movement, and the commander- 
in-chief himself was now afraid Napoleon might 
re-cross the Aube at Arcis and operate up the 
right bank. 

The Emperor had now been joined by the 
depots of the Guard, by the 2nd and 5th cavalry 
corps, and by Leval's division of the VII corps. 
He stood with his right at Pouan, centre at Arcis 
and left in Torcy. 

Schwarzenberg, with his line in place by 
10 a.m., hesitated to attack till he saw the posi- 
tion more clearly. Napoleon also did not want 
to move early, so as to give Macdonald time to 
arrive. He went to Torcy, but saw nothing but a 

174 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

few vedettes, the great line of 74,000 men being 
hidden from him by the intervening heights. 
Therefore, he still maintained that the action of 
the previous day had been nothing but an un- 
usually vigorous rearguard affair. Soon after 
10 a. m. he sent Sebastiani forward, followed by 
Ney's infantry, thus leaving Torcy unguarded. 

The sight which met Sebastiani's eyes, as he 
mounted the plateau at the head of his cavalry, 
was an alarming one ; for now he saw that what 
the Emperor believed to be a mere rearguard 
was in reality a great army. Ney, appreciating 
the position, kept his infantry in column ready 
to retreat. Pending orders, he and Sebastiani 
must do what they could, without committing 

The French position was as desperate as 
could well be conceived. Torcy, the support of 
their left wing, was abandoned, there were hardly 
any troops in Arcis, the whole of the little force 
was being pushed forward against an enemy 
many times its strength. Had Schwarzenberg 
pushed boldly on, he must have swept the French 
bodily into the river and repeated on a small scale 
the scenes of Leipzig. But it was only at noon, 
after a council of war, that he made up his mind 
to issue detailed orders for attack. He still 
reserved to himself the order for firing the three 
signal guns announcing that the hour for attack 
had arrived. 

Napoleon, however, was not to be dealt with 
in this slow methodical manner. As he said 
before Jena, "At last the veil is torn asunder"; 
but this time the veil was that created by his own 
persistent illusions, by his refusal to believe in 

Arcis-sur-Aube 175 

anything but Schwarzenberg's hurried retreat 
before the terror of his name. 

Once he had seen the falsity of his assump- 
tions, he acted with the decision and promptitude 
of his best days. He saw that he could not hope 
to hold out till nightfall against such odds. To re- 
treat through Arcis over a single bridge was a fairly 
desperate business, but it was the only chance of 
safety, and orders for it issued at once. Having 
got his army back to the right bank, the Emperor 
would carry out his long-decided march by Vitry 
on St Dizier, rallying his garrisons, raising the 
country, and transferring the theatre of operations 
from the plains of Champagne to the mountains 
of the Vosges and Jura in rear of the allies. This 
he anticipated would draw them after himself and 
away from Paris. 

The action was to be broken off at once and 
another bridge of boats thrown at Villette. It 
was ready by 1.30 p.m. A quarter of an hour 
later Drouot, with the whole of the Old Guard, 
was ordered to pass by it and march on Sompuis 
on the Vitry road. Lefol,* followed by the re- 
serve artillery, was already crossing the wooden 
bridge of Arcis. This column, as well as 
Milhaud and St. Germain, was to follow Drouot. 
Letort, from Mery, was to go direct to Sompuis. 
Macdonald to take position on the right bank, 
guarding the fords at Boulages and Plancy ; he 
would receive further orders when the Emperor 
knew the positions of Pacthod and Gerard. 
Oudinot would guard the neighbourhood of 
Arcis during the day. Sebastiani to remain 
where he was, covering the retreat till nightfall, 
* In place of Jaussens wounded on the previous day. 

176 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

when he would cross and move to Dosnon. It 
was only at 3 p.m., when he could seethe French 
retreating beyond the river, that Schwarzenberg at 
last gave the order to advance. The overpower- 
ing strength of his artillery soon silenced the 
French guns, whilst Pahlen defeated the cavalry 
on their right and took three guns. 

Nevertheless, Sebastiani got most of his cavalry 
over the bridge at Villette, and destroyed it 
behind him. 

In Arcis, Leval's men made a desperate 
defence from house to house. Attacked on all 
sides by very superior forces, almost cut from the 
bridge, they nevertheless succeeded in covering the 
retreat and destroying the bridge as they passed. 
The town was clear of French by 6 p.m. 
Oudinot, with one brigade left in the suburb on the 
north bank, where Danton once lived, had the 
rest of his troops at the farther end of the cause- 
way leading through the marshy woods, and at 
le Chene. Macdonald reached Ormes with his two 
divisions at 9 p.m. Gerard could get no farther 
than Plancy, with Amey's division behind at 
Anglure. The fords at Plancy and Boulages 
were watched by two of Macdonald's battalions. 
Kellermann had joined Sebastiani at Ormes. 
Macdonald was in great danger, should the allies 
force the passage, which, fortunately for him, they 
did not attempt that evening. 

As the allies' attack began, Wrede had been 
ordered to cross the Aube above Chaudrey at 
Coclois and Ramerupt. Only his cavalry 
succeeded, the infantry had to go round by 



WE have already shown that Napoleon 
was far from wishing to fight a 
great battle at Arcis. It was 
probably solely owing to his idea 
that he had only a rearguard before him that he 
had advanced on the morning of the 21st. He 
was at last disillusioned by the scene which met 
the eyes of Ney and Sebastiani. He then knew 
that there was no chance of his having on that 
day even the 50,000 men whom he would have 
when he was joined by the whole of Macdonald's 
army. Even then, he would have a strength 
vastly inferior to the 74,000 men whom 
Schwarzenberg had in front of Arcis, and still 
more so if we take into consideration the 14,000 
still at Troyes and on the Seine. Against such 
superiority La Rothiere and Laon must have 
convinced Napoleon that he had no chance. His 
estimate of the value of his personal command 
was certainly too high. He took, therefore, the 
only decision open to him, desperate though it 
was, to retreat across the river, under the eyes of 
an enormously superior enemy, and to make a 
flank march on Vitry. 

He had long meditated a march against 
Schwarzenberg's rear, reinforced by the garrisons 
called up from the fortresses of the Meuse and 
the Moselle. He was still intent on it ; hence 


178 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

his decision to move on Vitry, and thence, by St. 
Dizier, up the Marne towards Schwarzenberg's 
communications at Chaumont and Langres. He 
was of course unaware, on the 20th and the 
morning of the 21st, of the way in which the 
right bank of the Aube had been abandoned by 
all but the light cavalry of the Russian Guard. 
Had he known it by the evening of the 20th, he 
might have moved towards Brienne by that bank, 
even without waiting for Macdonald who, as he 
advanced, could have guarded the Aube against 
any attempt by Schwarzenberg to cross. Not 
that any such attempt was likely in the existing 
state of opinion at allied headquarters. As it 
was, the Tsar did not approve of Schwarzenberg's 
bold change of plans, though his disapproval 
seems curious in view of his previous frequent 
disapproval of the Austrian's want of enterprise. 

Under the circumstances, the probabilities are 
that, had Schwarzenberg learnt on the 20th that 
Napoleon was marching on Brienne, he would 
have at once reversed his engines and hurried off 
at his best speed to secure his line of retreat by 
Bar-sur-Aube. Schwarzenberg's failure to attack 
Arcis on the 21st till he saw clearly that 
Napoleon was retreating on the Chalons or Vitry 
roads (they are the same for some distance north 
of Arcis) was no doubt a grievous error. But 
Weil makes some excuse for him, on the ground 
of his personal position as a nominal commander- 
in-chief, yet obliged to defer to the allied 
sovereigns, and especially to the Tsar, whose 
attitude towards him on the previous day had 
been markedly cold, almost insulting. Where 
Weil does find him to blame is in having 

The general Advance on Paris 179 

employed so unnecessarily large a force against 
Napoleon's rearguard. That, he thinks, could 
have been easily disposed of by a single corps, 
the VI for choice, whilst the rest hurried across 
the Aube again above Chaudrey, over bridges 
hastily prepared for them with pontoons, of which 
the allies always had an ample supply. 

Arrived on the right bank in this direction, 
the allies would have been able, on the 22nd, to 
act in overwhelming force on the flank of 
Napoleon's march to Vitry. The Emperor, 
himself at Sompuis, would have been caught 
with his army spread out over an immense 
length, owing to the distance of parts of 
Macdonald's army, and the necessity of keeping 
a strong force in front of Arcis and towards 
Plancy to cover the movement of Macdonald to 
join him, a movement which could not possibly 
be completed before the evening of the 22nd. 
As it was, Schwarzenberg, on the evening of the 
21st, was practically out of touch with the enemy, 
and had no notion whether the Emperor was 
directing his march on Vitry, on Chalons, or 
back, by Sezanne, on Paris. 

He was not much enlightened on the subject 
even by the evening of the 22nd. All that day 
Macdonald's rearguard held on at Arcis and in 
the neighbourhood with such vigour that the 
Crown Prince gave up the idea of forcing the 
passage there, and, under the alternative orders 
given him by Schwarzenberg, marched the IV 
and VI corps off across the Aube by Ramerupt 
to Dampierre. Schwarzenberg had wanted them, 
after forcing the passages at Arcis, to occupy 
the line Herbisse— Dosnon ; but this was now 

180 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

impossible. The III corps, so much of it as 
was up, remained facing Oudinot. 

On the evening of the 22nd the IV corps 
stood at Corbeil, the VI at Dampierre. Kais- 
sarow and Seslawin, on the left of the III corps, 
were beating up the country between Mery and 
Plancy. Wrede, hearing of the confusion and 
hesitation at headquarters, had stopped his march 
at Brebant, though his cavalry was pushed 
forwards towards Vitry. The Guards and 
Reserves remained behind the Meldancon brook. 

All sorts of contradictory reports added to 
the confusion at Pougy, where were the Tsar, 
the king of Prussia, and Schwarzenberg. Wrede 
averred that Napoleon was moving on Chalons, 
the Crown Prince named Vitry. 

Schwarzenberg proceeded to draft long orders 
providing for each of three cases, Napoleon's move- 
ment on Chalons, on Vitry, or on Montmirail. 

Meanwhile, Napoleon had been acting with 
the utmost vigour. Ney, the Guard, Letort, 
Berckheim,* St. Germain, and Milhaud had all 
marched on Vitry. The place was strongly held 
by Colonel von Schwichow with about 5000 
Prussians and Russians. Summoned by Ney, he 
refused to surrender, and some shells thrown into 
the place had no effect. Ney was, therefore, 
ordered to mask Vitry and, crossing above it 
at Frignicourt, to push his cavalry on to St. 
Dizier. At the latter place, Pire with the light 
cavalry (400 men) captured most of two of the 
enemy's battalions and a large convoy. There 
were some other cavalry successes, but, splendid 

* Commanding a mixed force of cavalry about 1700 strong, 
arrived from Paris about the 14th. 

The general Advance on Paris 181 

as his dash had been, Pire was not satisfied, 
complaining that, though Defrance had supported 
him, St. Germain had stopped at Perthes. 

During the night of the 2 2nd-23rd Macdonald 
fell back unperceived on Dosnon, whence he 
marched for Vitry by Trouan and Sommesous, 
since the enemy's cavalry barred the direct road. 
His park, in advance of him, was attacked by 
Osarowski's Guard light cavalry. It should have 
been guarded by Amey ; but that general, under 
a misapprehension, had gone to meet Pacthod 
towards Sezanne. Though the drivers and 
gunners made a brave fight, the whole park 
would have been carried off but for the timely 
arrival of Gerard. As it was, 15 guns and 300 
prisoners were carried away, 12 guns spiked, and 
all the powder destroyed. Thanks to Ney having 
left Lefol to guard the passage at Frignicourt, 
Macdonald was able to cross the Marne there 
on the 23rd before Wrede could arrive, though 
he had constantly to fight during the day. 

Napoleon was between Vitry and St. Dizier 
on the 22nd, but, having to wait for Macdonald, 
could only send out cavalry towards Bar-le-Duc, 
and southwards against Schwarzenberg's com- 
munications. On the evening of the 23rd he 
was with the Guard at St. Dizier, Ney between 
Vitry and St. Dizier, Macdonald behind him, 
having just crossed the Marne. Pacthod and 
Amey, as well as Marmont and Mortier, were 
now hopelessly cut from Napoleon by the 
interposition of Schwarzenberg, who stood on 
the line Soude St e . Croix-Courdemanges, with 
the Guards and Reserves behind the latter, 
and the VI and III corps behind Sompuis. 

1 82 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

Meanwhile, allied headquarters at Pougy at 
first supposed Wrede and the Crown Prince 
would attack Napoleon, now clearly making for 
Vitry. But, whilst Schwarzenberg and Radetzky 
were drawing up orders for the advance on Vitry, 
there arrived Diebitsch, Quartermaster-General 
of Barclay, bringing intercepted French de- 
spatches, including an order from Berthier to 
Macdonald saying the cavalry was at St. Dizier 
and Joinville, and requiring him to pass the 
Marne at once. Before Schwarzenberg had 
decided what to do, he was summoned to a 
council of war at Pougy. There he found that 
news had been received that Pahlen's cavalry 
was in touch with Winzingerode's advance guard 
of the Silesian army. Winzingerode already had 
8000 cavalry and 40 guns at Vitry, and Woron- 
zow with his infantry was on the march from 
Chalons. Langeron and Sacken were follow- 
ing, whilst Yorck and Kleist were at Chateau- 
Thierry, and Billow before Soissons. Yet 
another French despatch rider had been taken 
by Tettenborn. On the prisoner was found a 
letter from Napoleon to Marie Louise, dated 
22nd March, in which it was said, " On the 21st 
the enemy drew up in order of battle to protect 
his march on Brienne and Bar-sur-Aube. I have 
decided to move on to the Marne, in order to 
push the enemy's armies farther from Paris, and 
to draw myself nearer my fortresses." Another 
letter to the Empress said, " The army has 
passed the Marne near Vitry, and we entered 
St. Dizier this evening." * 

* Only copies of these letters were kept by the allies, the 
originals being made over for delivery to French outposts. The 

The general Advance on Paris 183 

There could be no longer any doubt as to 
the Emperor's movements and intentions. It 
was, moreover, clear that Napoleon was already 
so far advanced towards Chaumont that it was 
no longer possible to prevent his intercepting 
Schwarzenberg's communications, or even reach- 
ing the plateau of Langres. 

Were the allies to march after him as he 
carried away or destroyed all their magazines and 
depots? If so, it would be hardly possible to 
stop short of the Rhine; for the army would 
rapidly become demoralized without supplies in a 
country where a general rising would raise every 
man's hand against the invader. 

It does not appear to have struck any one at 
the council that the obviously correct plan was to 
advance on Paris with the whole of the armies, 
leaving Napoleon, at the head of a comparatively 
small army, to do his worst on the com- 
munications with Switzerland. They decided, 
however, first to unite with the army of Silesia at 
Chalons, and then with both armies, nearly 
200,000 strong, to follow Napoleon. The com- 
munications with Switzerland, being already lost, 
would be abandoned, and both armies would rely 
on the line through Laon to the Netherlands. 
The Emperor of Austria, who was at Bar-sur- 
Aube, was warned that it was now probably too 
late for him to rejoin Schwarzenberg, and that 
he had better make for safety at Dijon with 
the army of the south. Fortunately, Francis 

letters are not in the correspondence of Napoleon, but the 
existence of such letters (the copies are at Vienna) is confirmed by 
the report of the French officer (at Paris) to whom the originals 
were made over. 

184 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

followed the advice, and so saved himself from 
becoming the prisoner of his son-in-law, whose 
cavalry were in Bar a few hours after he left. 

The idea of marching on Chalons was pure 
waste of energy and time ; for Bluchers 
advanced guard had already passed it, and to 
go there only meant a long march which would 
have to be retraced in following Napoleon. 
Meanwhile, the appearance of French cavalry at 
Joinville and other places had already produced 
the wildest confusion and alarm on the line of 
communications with Switzerland which continued 
and increased during the next few days. 

Here we must briefly state what had been 
happening on the northern front since Napoleon, 
on the 17th March, had left Marmont and 
Mortier to contain Bliicher. 

The old Field-marshal was still suffering 
when, on the 18th March, his army at last began 
to advance again along the Reims road, except 
Biilow who moved on Soissons. On this day 
Yorck, supported by a turning movement of 
Czernitchew's cavalry, forced Ricard from Berry- 
au-Bac where, however, the French general 
blew up the bridge. 

At this time Mortier was at Reims, with 
Charpentier's division at Soissons. Marmont, 
who was in command of the whole, had orders 
that, if Bliicher crossed the Aisne, he was to be 
checked as much as possible, and Marmont was 
to cover the road to Paris.* 

Though the Emperor wrote to him on the 
20th to retire on Chalons and Epernay, and 
censured him later for going by Chateau- Thierry,f 
* Corr. 21,512. f Corr. 21,522. 

The general Advance on Paris 185 

it is not very remarkable that, with his existing 
orders, he should have fallen back on Fismes and 
called Mortier to join him from Reims. He 
himself says he took the direction he did in order 
to cover the Paris road, and to be able to pick up 

Marmont was under the impression that 
Blucher contemplated a general attack on him. 
That was wrong ; for the Prussian was making 
for Reims and Chalons to rejoin Schwarzenberg. 
He, therefore, only followed Marmont and 
Mortier with the corps of Yorck and Kleist. 
On the 2 1 st the two marshals reached Chateau- 
Thierry with Charpentier, who had joined them 
at Oulchy. In the previous night Marmont had 
received Napoleon's censure of his march away 
from Reims and Chalons, with orders to try and 
regain that road by Epernay ; for, without that, 
Blucher would rejoin Schwarzenberg, and the 
whole would fall on him (Marmont).* Vincent 
having been driven from Epernay by Tettenborn, 
Marmont crossed at Chateau-Thierry, broke 
down the bridge, and marched on the 22nd 
towards Etoges. On this day Biilow began 
bombarding Soissons, and Yorck found himself 
unable to cross the Marne at Chateau-Thierry. 

In the night of the 2 2nd-2$rd Gneisenau 
diagnosed the position for Blucher thus.f The 
Emperor, he held, had called in Marmont and 
Mortier and meant to fight with his whole army 

* Corr. 21,524. 

f Bliicher's appearance at the head of his troops must have 
been curious ; for, refusing to wear goggles or a shade to protect 
his eyes, he had annexed, from a wardrobe in his quarters, a lady's 
smart green silk hat, which gave the necessary shade, and wore it 
for some days. Weil, III. 535. 

1 86 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

united. That being so, the army of Silesia should 
endeavour to fall on Napoleon's flank and rear. 
Kleist and Yorck were to follow the marshals ; 
Winzingerode, followed byjSacken and Langeron, 
by Reims, Epernay, and Chalons on Arcis ; 
Woronzow with Winzingerode's infantry going 
direct to Chalons. 

Though Marmont and Mortier knew that 
Pacthod and Amey were due, with 4500 men, 
chiefly National Guards from Paris, at Suzanne, 
they continued their retreat to Vertus (Marmont) 
and Etoges (Mortier) on the 23rd. 

Napoleon was not altogether displeased with 
the apparent movements of the allies on the 23rd, 
for, though the union of their two armies had 
been facilitated by the direction of Marmont's 
retreat, they were apparently responding to the 
Emperor's movement against the communications 
of the army of Bohemia, by setting out to follow 
him and abandoning the advance on Paris. 

He now, for the moment, gave up the idea of 
marching on the fortresses, and proposed to seize 
Bar-sur-Aube and open a new line of operations 
for himself by Troyes to Paris. On the 23rd he 
started for Vassy, notwithstanding the fears of 
Macdonald, who foresaw defeat if he, in his post of 
rearguard, were attacked, as he expected to be. 

That evening Ney was at Vassy, the Guard 
with Napoleon at Doulevant, Macdonald and 
Oudinot still at St. Dizier. The cavalry sent 
towards Bar-le-Duc had been called in, and that 
in front was already in Colombey-les-deux- 
Eglises, and knew that Bar-sur-Aube was clear 
of the enemy. The Emperor's operations on 
this day (23rd) were unmolested ; for, as we 

The general Advance on Paris 187 

know, Schwarzenberg was on his way to 

During the night of the 23rd-24th much 
important information reached the allies. There 
were many reports from the enemies of Napoleon 
in Paris. Still more important was a despatch 
from Savary (Minister of Police) taken by 
Tettenborn's cossacks. It informed the Emperor 
that treasury, magazines, and arsenals were 
equally empty, that the populace, encouraged 
in disaffection by the enemies of the Empire, 
was clamouring for peace. Unless Napoleon 
could draw the allies away from Paris, and avoid 
returning to the capital himself with the enemy 
at his heels, there would be an open outbreak. 

Schwarzenberg still could not make up his 
mind to advance on Paris, but he did realize the 
absurdity of going to Chalons. With the orders 
and events on the allies' side on the 24th we 
need not trouble ourselves, except with the all- 
important, the decisive change in their whole 
system of operations which, at last, thanks to the 
Tsar, took place. 

Alexander, left alone at Sompuis, whilst 
Schwarzenberg and the King of Prussia went to 
arrange for the march on Vitry, sat down to 
study the captured despatches, especially Savary's. 
As he read and compared, he realized that Paris, 
not the Emperor, should now be the objective. 
Not wishing to be solely responsible, he sent for 
Barclay, Diebitsch, and Toll. Barclay's opinion 
was taken first ; he was all for following Napoleon. 
Diebitsch, really in favour of Paris, but not liking 
to run counter to his chief (Barclay), proposed 
sending 40,000 or 50,000 men to Paris and 

1 88 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

following Napoleon with the rest. Toll, having 
no ties to Barclay, said plainly that he would 
like to send only 10,000 cavalry against Napoleon 
to mask the movement of the rest of the united 
armies on Paris. That fitted in precisely with 
Alexander's views, which he had hitherto kept to 
himself. To Diebitsch's remark that the march 
on Paris implied a restoration of the Bourbons, 
the Tsar replied shortly, " There is no question 
of the Bourbons ; it is a question of overturning 
Napoleon." Nor did he give any weight to 
Barclay's argument that Napoleon would reach 
Paris before them, or to his inferences based 
on what had happened at Moscow in 18 12. 
Diebitsch, too, now seeing how the wind blew, 
went over to Alexander's side. Then they all 
went off after the King of Prussia and Schwar- 
zenberg. Frederick William, as usual, agreed 
with the Tsar, and Schwarzenberg had no option 
but to accept the proposal, which was that, next 
day, the VI corps should march on Fere 
Champenoise, followed by the IV, the cavalry 
of both acting as advanced guard. The Guards 
and Reserves to follow by Sompuis and Mailly ; 
Wrede to march by the high-road ; the III 
corps to march on Fere Champenoise from the 
place where it received the orders ; Kaissarow to 
stay at Arcis, maintaining communication with 

As it was not known exactly where Blucher 
was, orders were sent direct to Winzingerode to 
follow Napoleon with his cavalry, and to send 
Czernitchew's cossacks to Montier-en-Der to 
watch the country between the Marne and Aube ; 
Tettenborn to watch towards Metz, in case the 

The general Advance on Paris 189 

enemy should undertake anything in that direc- 
tion. Woronzow was to march, on the 25th, 
from Chalons to Etoges ; Langeron and Sacken 
to join him. 

The new direction was communicated to 
Bliicher, who was told to try and take Soissons 
and hold it. Needless to say, Bliicher received 
the news with delight. " I was sure," he ex- 
claimed, "my brave brother Schwarzenberg 
would be of the same opinion as myself. Now 
we shall soon be done with the business." * 
He alone of the allied commanders had cor- 
rectly gauged Napoleon's movement as a last 
desperate effort to draw the allies from Paris, in 
which the fortunes of his empire were centred. 
Some of the others thought he meant to make 
his last fight beyond the Rhine ; others that he 
would make for the Netherlands, defeat or gain 
over Bernadotte, and then return, reinforced by 
the garrisons, against the allied armies. Bliicher, 
even before he heard of the decision of Sompuis, 
had ordered Sacken towards Paris by Mont- 
mirail. He planned a concentration of his army 
at Meaux on the 28th, the very day on which 
headquarters had now resolved to unite both 
armies there for the final march on Paris. 

Here, in order to get a clear view of the 
situation of affairs, we summarize the positions 
of both sides in the night of the 24th. f On the 
allied side, the army of Bohemia stood west of 
Vitry, ready to move westwards, except the III 
corps which was north of Mailly on the Arcis- 
Chalons road. Winzingerode was on the right 

* Varnhagen-von-Ense, " Life of Bliicher," 427. 
f Map III (j). 

190 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

bank of the Marne with his cavalry between 
Vitry and St. Dizier. Sacken, Woronzow, and 
Langeron were about Chalons, under orders to 
march by the Montmirail road. Kleist and 
Yorck were between Chateau-Thierry and 
Montmirail ; Blilow before Soissons. 

On the French side, Macdonald was still at St. 
Dizier, Ney at Vassy, Napoleon and the Guard at 
Doulevant, with Pire's cavalry towards Chaumont, 
and St. Germain's towards Bar-sur-Aube. All 
these were safe from immediate serious molesta- 
tion, but it was otherwise with the remaining 
French corps. Marmont was at Soude Ste. 
Croix, waiting for Mortier marching from Vertus. 
Both were trying to join the Emperor by Vitry, 
but were hopelessly cut from him by four allied 
corps in front, and the III corps and Seslawin 
on Marmont's right rear. Pacthod and Amey 
were at Vertus, between the three corps of 
Sacken, Langeron, and Woronzow at Chalons, 
and the corps of Yorck and Kleist approaching 
Montmirail. Compans was at Sezanne with the 
scattered detachments which he had been ordered 
to collect there. His retreat was still open by 
La Ferte Gaucher and Meaux. 

Schwarzenberg's orders for the 25th arrived 
too late for an early start, but by 8 a.m. Pahlen's 
3600 cavalry found Marmont drawn up at Soude 
Ste. Croix. The French retired in good order, 
and were presently joined by Mortier. The 
Crown Prince of Wlirtemberg decided to attack 
without waiting for his infantry. His cavalry 
was gradually reinforced till, at 4 p.m., he had 
at least 1 2,000.* The French cavalry behaved 
* Houssaye says 20,000. 

The general Advance on Paris 191 

badly, and Marmont and Mortier, driven from 
position to position, often in disorder, had only 
effected their escape through Fere Champenoise 
to Allemant when the Crown Prince decided to 
wait for infantry, which could not be up till 
next morning. At one time, the French, hear- 
ing artillery fire from the north-east, were cheered 
with the belief that the Emperor was coming to 
their assistance. But what they heard was some- 
thing quite different. Marmont and Mortier lost 
this day 2000 killed and wounded, 4000 prisoners, 
45 guns, and 100 ammunition wagons, out of a 
total strength of 19,000 men.* 

What they had heard in the north-east was 
the last gallant fight of Pacthod and Amey who, 
with 4300 men and 16 guns, guarding a large 
convoy of food and ammunition, had spent the 
night at Bergeres and were on the march to 
Vatry, where they hoped to meet Mortier. They 
had halted at Villeseneux to eat when they 
were attacked by KorfT with Langeron's cavalry 
and Karpow's cossacks. They had reached 
Clamanges on the way to Fere Champenoise, 
retiring from position to position in squares, when 
Pacthod saw it was necessary to abandon the 
convoy. Between 2 and 3 p.m. Pacthod was at 
Ecury-le-Repos when fresh hostile cavalry began 
to sweep down on the little force from every 
direction : Wassiltchikow from the north with 
Sacken's cavalry ; Pahlen's cavalry from the 
south-west, sent back by the Crown Prince to 
see what was happening on his right rear ; from 
the south 30 Russian guns, brought up by the 
Tsar himself, fired on the French squares. The 

* Houssaye says only 16,580. 

192 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

National Guards, who formed the bulk of the 
French, fought like veterans. It was only when 
his squares were broken and Pacthod himself 
wounded that he was forced to surrender. 
Amey, too, his troops in a single square, trying 
to get away into the great marsh of St. Gond, 
was surrounded by cavalry. Still the French 
would not surrender. Nearly every man was 
killed, wounded or captured, and only a very 
few succeeded in escaping to the marshes. 

The total loss of Marmont, Mortier, Pacthod, 
and Amey was some 10,000 men and over 60 
guns. The allies only lost 2000 men. 

For Napoleon, the 25th March had been a 
day of uncertainty and hesitation. From his 
lieutenants there came in the most contradictory 
and perplexing reports of the enemy's move- 
ments, most of them wrong either in their facts, 
or their inferences, or both. Pire with the cavalry 
southwards continued to report the spread of 
panic on the lines of communication of the army 
of Bohemia. During the day he occupied 
Chaumont, and heard of preparations for evacuat- 
ing Langres. News came in that Troyes was 
being evacuated, and that the Emperor of 
Austria had fled to Dijon. 

In the opposite direction, Schwarzenberg 
appeared to have stopped his advance on Vitry, 
or at least not to be pressing it. Macdonald 
had not been molested as he marched from St. 
Dizier. Ney reported all quiet towards Vitry, 
but that the allies seemed to be marching for 
Brienne. If the allied commander-in-chiei had 
been any one but Schwarzenberg, the advance on 
Paris might have been suspected ; but such a 

The general Advance on Paris 193 

resolution could hardly be believed, looking to 
what had happened hitherto. At 3.30 a.m. 
Napoleon wrote to Berthier that it would be four 
or five hours before he could have clear ideas as 
to what the enemy was doing.* He ordered 
his corps to halt where they were. In the 
afternoon, Macdonald reported artillery fire 
against his rearguard, Ney that 10,000 cavalry, 
coming from Vitry, were arriving at St. Dizier. 
There was nothing to show whether this large 
cavalry body was the advanced guard of a great 
army advancing on St. Dizier, or only a detached 

Anyhow, there was a good opportunity to 
overwhelm it. Macdonald was on the left 
bank of the Marne now, but the river was 
fordable here in many places. At 9 p.m. orders 
issued for the morrow. The Emperor proposed 
to attack this force and drive it against the 
Marne. The enemy was scattered (so Napoleon 
thought), and there was every chance of a good 
day's work. 

Nevertheless, the Emperor's confidence had 
deserted him. Two days before, when Caulain- 
court, returning after the breaking off of the 
Chatillon negotiations, had urged an attempt to 
reopen them, Napoleon would have nothing to 
do with it. Now he authorized his plenipotentiary 
to follow the course he had proposed. Moreover, 
he agreed to give up a frontier extending to the 
left bank of the Rhine. But the possibility of a 
renewal of negotiations did not turn him from his 
projects of battle. 

By dawn on the 26th Napoleon was at Vassy 

* Corr. 21,541. 


194 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

where he learnt, from Macdonald, that only a few 
cossacks were now in contact with him. These 
cossacks, under Tettenborn, forming Winzin- 
gerode's advanced guard, were easily driven 
across the Marne, and from the heights on the 
left bank the Emperor plainly saw the whole of 
Winzingerode's mass of cavalry drawn up in two 
lines, the first on the hither side, the second on 
the farther side of the Vitry-St. Dizier road. 
Their left rested on St. Dizier, defended by 1000 
infantry, their right on the warren of Perthes, 
the edge of which was also held by a battalion. 
There were skirmishers along the river. 

The advance began at once, Oudinot moving 
on St. Dizier, the whole of the cavalry, headed by 
Sebastiani, crossing a ford below the town, 
followed by Macdonald, Gerard, and the Old 
Guard. The cavalry, first driving in Tetten- 
born's cossacks, advanced against the enemy's 
centre. The Russians began to give way at 
once, and Winzingerode ordered Tettenborn to 
retire on Vitry, whilst he himself fell back on 
Bar-le-Duc, endeavouring to take with him the 
infantry in St. Dizier. As the enemy's cavalry 
formed column of march, Sebastiani sent against 
their flank the dragoons of the Guard and the 
mounted grenadiers, supported by the 2000 
dragoons from Spain under Treilliard. 

The broken horsemen of Winzingerode fled, 
partly towards Bar-le-Duc, partly into the forest 
north of St. Dizier. The former line was taken 
also by the infantry from St. Dizier. They were 
soon caught by Treilliard, who cut them down and 
pursued them two-thirds of the way to Bar-le- 

The general Advance on Paris 195 

On the other side L'Heritier's cavalry division 
drove Tettenborn and the skirmishers towards 

Winzingerode had, in a couple of hours, been 
driven completely from his position in two 
directions, with a loss of 1500 men and 9 guns.* 

The victory, such as it was, was Napoleon's 
last, except Ligny in 1815. It did not bring 
much relief to his difficulties. It did not go far 
to show him what the allies were really doing, 
but it was pretty clear evidence that Winzin- 
gerode's cavalry was not the strong advanced 
guard of a great army ; for it was clearly un 

Napoleon's uneasiness was added to by the 
statements of prisoners that the main army was 
marching on Paris. Still, such statements were 
not enough to go upon ; for the Emperor himself 
had only recently ordered his commanders to 
spread reports among their men that his march 
was on Metz, whilst it was really on Bar-sur-Aube. 
This had been done with the deliberate intention 
of preventing prisoners giving true information.! 

Napoleon, no doubt, had begun to suspect 
the truth on the evening of the 26th, and it was 
with a view to enlightenment that he ordered 
Oudinot to push next day on Bar-le-Duc, whilst 
he himself marched for Vitry. 

In the afternoon of the 27th, when he was 
before Vitry, news came in from all directions, 
including intercepted despatches and proclama- 
tions of the allies, which placed the question 
beyond the possibility of doubt. 

* According to Weil. Houssaye puts the loss higher, 
f Houssaye, 391. 

196 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

What was he to do now in this most critical 
period of his affairs ? Should he return by forced 
marches on Paris ? The enemy had gained three 
days' march on him, and the probabilities were 
that he would find them already in occupation of 
the capital, the defences of which had been sadly 

He had often, during the earlier part of the 
campaign, asserted that he could not afford to 
lose Paris, but latterly he had said that he had 
not ceased " to foresee this eventuality, and had 
familiarized himself with the decisions which it 
would entail. " * If he remained in the east and 
let Paris go, he would be joined shortly by 
Durutte from Metz with 4000 men, besides what 
might be collected from Longwy, Montmedy, 
Luxemburg, and Sarrelouis. Broussier with 5000 
men was about to break out of Strasburg, collect- 
ing the garrisons in that direction ; 2000 men 
from Verdun were on the march to Chalons ; 
Souham's division from Nogent-sur-Seine, and 
Allix's 2000 from Auxerre might be drawn in. 
In addition to all these, the whole countryside 
was arming, or clamouring for arms. On the 
other hand, there was to be reckoned with the 
discontent of his commanders, knowing that their 
homes in Paris were abandoned to the enemy, 
and that the war, once transferred to Alsace and 
Lorraine, might last indefinitely. In the end, 
the Emperor yielded to these latter considerations. 
At 11 p.m. on the 27th, orders issued for the 
march of the army on Paris by the longer but 
clearer route by Bar-sur-Aube, Troyes, and 

* Fain, 203. 

The general Advance on Paris 197 

In the morning of the 28th, as Napoleon 
was leaving St. Dizier, Count Weissenberg, the 
Austrian ambassador to England, was brought in 
a prisoner. Him Napoleon sent off to negotiate 
with the Austrian Emperor, just as he had sent 
Meerveldt during the battle of Leipzig. Caulain- 
court also wrote to Metternich. 

At Doulevant, in the evening of the 28th, the 
Emperor received an urgent call for his presence 
in Paris, which the allies were approaching. He 
was obliged to sleep at Doulevant, for his army 
had not advanced far enough to make it safe for 
him, with a small escort, to go ahead of it. On 
the 29th, at Dolancourt, he heard that the allies 
were in possession of Meaux, and that fighting 
was already going on at Claye, only fifteen miles 
from Paris. The troops were hurried on at 
lightning speed, and Troyes was reached that 
night. The Guard marched forty-three miles 
that day. 

At daybreak on the 30th the Emperor started 
ahead, leaving Berthier in command, with orders 
to hurry on. At first he rode with an escort of 
two squadrons. Then he began to think that by 
driving he might reach Paris that night. He, 
with Caulaincourt, set out from Villeneuve 
l'Archeveque in a light wicker carriage, followed 
by Drouot and Flahault in another, and by 
Gourgaud and Marshal Lefebvre in a third. 
The last-named, as one of the people, would be 
useful in organizing a defence by the working 

As he drove in his wretched conveyance, bad 
news poured in upon the Emperor. At Sens 
he heard that the enemy was before Paris ; at 

198 Napoleon at Bay, 18 14 

Fontainebleau that the Empress was gone from 
Paris, a move which he could not justly blame, 
for he himself had ordered it, if she and her son 
were in danger of capture by the allies. At 
Essonne he heard that a battle was raging before 

He had reached the post-house of La Cour 
de France, only twelve miles from Paris, and 
was impatiently awaiting a change of horses, 
when there arrived a body of cavalry, under 
Belliard. In reply to the Emperor's storm of 
questions, Belliard told him of the battle of 
Paris, and of the convention about to be signed, 
under which Marmont was to evacuate the capital 
next morning. Still Napoleon insisted on making 
for Paris, and had actually gone a mile or two on 
the road when he found himself in view of the 
enemy's bivouac fires barring the road. Unable 
to go farther, he returned to La Cour de France. 
Flahault was sent off to urge Marmont to hold 
out. At the same time, Caulaincourt was 
despatched to Paris with full powers to conclude 
peace, in the vain hope that negotiations might 
still be possible. 

A very few words must suffice to describe 
what had happened as the allies advanced on 
Paris after the defeat of Marmont, Mortier, 
Pacthod, and Amey on the 25th. 

The two marshals, reaching Sezanne on the 
26th, found part of Yorck's and Kleist's corps 
already there. Compelled to turn southwards, 
as the road to Meaux was barred, they marched 
hard for Paris by Provins, and succeeded in 
reaching the capital unmolested on the 29th. 

Compans had been just in time to get away 

The general Advance on Paris 199 

from Sezanne to Meaux, where he picked up 
some reinforcements of small military value. 
He was driven from Meaux to Claye, where 
he met another 3400 reinforcements. He made 
one or two more attempts to stand between 
Meaux and Paris, before which he arrived on 
the 29th. 

In the evening of the 29th the allies were in 
front of the capital, on its eastern and northern 
sides, with 107,000 men. Sacken and Wrede 
had been left about Trilport to meet a possible 
attack by Napoleon ; Blilow was besieging 
Soissons ; Winzingerode's cavalry was still 
towards Montier-en-Der. Napoleon's own army 
was still almost entirely east of Troyes. 
Opposed to the army in front of Paris, Marmont 
had nearly 12,000 regular troops, Mortier about 
1 1,000, and Moncey the garrison of Paris, mostly 
National Guards, raising the total to about 
42,000 troops, good, bad, and indifferent, with 
154 guns. 

Very little had been done towards fortifying 
the capital. It is easy to understand that, 
though Napoleon had talked of making Paris a 
strong place, it was with reluctance that he 
viewed operations which would tend to make 
the people think that he, the conqueror of 
Europe, had to look to earthworks for the 
defence of his capital. When, therefore, Joseph 
sent him projects for fortifications, he sometimes 
said they required further consideration, some- 
times neglected to supply the necessary funds, 
sometimes did not answer at all. 

Beyond the incomplete "octroi" wall, and a 
few trenches, batteries, redoubts, and barricades, 

200 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

Paris was unfortified when the allies attacked on 
the 30th March. 

Of the battle of Paris we do not propose to 
give any detailed account. By 4 p.m. the French 
had been driven back to the heights of Belleville 
on the right (Marmont), and Montmartre on 
the left (Mortier) with a connecting line between. 

The Emperor, as we know, was then hurry- 
ing by Fontainebleau in his wicker carriage. Of 
his own army, Souham was at Nogent-sur-Seine, 
the Guard at Villeneuve l'Archeveque, Ney at 
Troyes, Macdonald between Vendceuvre and 
Troyes, Pire on the Aube. 

With the negotiations between Marmont and 
the allies in the evening and night of the 30th, 
with the capitulation of Paris, or with the 
subsequent negotiations which led to the first 
abdication of Napoleon and his departure for 
Elba, we do not propose to deal. They are fully 
narrated in many non-military histories, and in 
the admirable "1814" of the late M. Henry 
Houssaye, a book equally excellent from a 
military and from a political point of view, 
one which is deficient only in the absence of 
good maps to illustrate the progress of military 

Clausewitz has poured scorn on Napoleon's 
attempt to draw the allies from Paris by a march 
against Schwarzenberg's communications, treat- 
ing it as a mere gambler's desperate throw. On 
general principles, no doubt, the move should 
have proved, as it did prove, futile. But, looking 
to the special circumstances of the case, and to 
the personality of Schwarzenberg, was it so 
bound to fail as Clausewitz thinks ? The whole 

The general Advance on Paris 201 

of Schwarzenberg's conduct in 181 3 and 1814, 
his almost insane nervousness regarding his com- 
munications, surely gave the Emperor good 
reason to believe that such a manoeuvre, the fear 
of which had already induced the Austrian 
commander-in-chief to abandon the march on 
Paris rather than risk having his communications 
cut, would succeed once more. As a matter of 
fact, it had succeeded on the 23rd March in 
deciding the council of war of Pougy to vote for 
following Napoleon, rather than risk the move 
on Paris. It was only on the 25th that the 
Tsar, to whom the whole credit is due, compelled 
a change of plan and a determined advance on 
Paris. Even he, perhaps, would not have been 
bold enough to advocate this course but for 
Savary's letter to the Emperor, which fortune 
had placed in his hands, and the correctness of 
the contents of which was confirmed by reports 
from friends in Paris. Napoleon's move was, no 
doubt, a desperate one, but it was the last open 
to him, and, looking to all the circumstances, it 
may well be doubted whether it was quite so 
absurd as Clausewitz seems to think. For once, 
it looks as if the great critic had allowed 
his judgment to be warped by the actual 



BEFORE closing this account of 
Napoleon's penultimate campaign, it 
may be well to glance back briefly at 
its principal features, and the lessons 
which they teach. The campaign of 1814 has 
been greatly admired, and has even been held up 
as the greatest effort of the Emperor's genius. 

If, on the one hand, we think this estimate 
places it too high, on the other, it is certainly a 
wonderful example of what Napoleon's genius 
could do in circumstances which, since the great 
defeat of Leipzig, had become so desperate that 
no other general of the time would have even 
attempted to make head against them. To find 
a parallel we have to go back to Frederick the 
Great in his struggle against almost all the rest of 

Napoleon had lost practically the whole of the 
great army of 181 2, and that had been replaced 
in 18 13 by another of inferior quality, which he 
had conjured up as if by magic. Now that, too, 
had nearly disappeared, except for the garrisons 
left behind in the German fortresses. For 
Napoleon these were as much lost as the dead, 
disabled, and prisoners of Liitzen, Bautzen, 
Dresden, and Leipzig. 

But the spirit of the great leader was still 
unquelled, though he found it impossible to raise 

Concluding Remarks 203 

from exhausted and discontented France the new 
troops he wanted. Time was his most urgent 
need, and the allies seemed determined to give 
him that, by delaying their advance and negoti- 
ating for a peace which, perhaps, they never 
intended to grant, or Napoleon to accept. 

Still, the Emperor had not sufficient time; 
for he was bound to Paris by the immense labours 
of organization and of government, which he alone 
could control. When, at last, he tore himself 
away to return to the front at Chalons, he was a 
week too late to be able to fall upon one of the 
allied armies, Bliicher's for choice, before they 
could unite. Their union had been effected, 
though it was still by no means complete, and 
there was yet a chance of inflicting a heavy blow 
on Bliicher before he was fully supported by the 
slow-moving corps of the army of Bohemia. 
Napoleon's attack on Bliicher at Brienne was the 
most natural course for him to take ; but it failed, 
and henceforward he must have known that he had 
to reckon also with a large part of Schwarzenberg's 
army. Here he made his first great mistake, in 
waiting too long about Brienne, until he could not 
avoid the battle of La Rothiere in which, with his 
inferior numbers and poor position, he could not 
reasonably hope for success. He was saved from 
complete ruin by the faults of the allies, which 
were numerous. Forgetting that it is never 
possible to be too strong on the decisive battle- 
field, Schwarzenberg wasted Wittgenstein's corps, 
and perhaps Yorck's also. Even Wrede would 
have been sent off after Wittgenstein, but for his 
own suggestion crossing Schwarzenberg's orders. 
The limitations of Bliicher's command were 

204 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

bound, as for political reasons they were intended, 
to prevent the realization of the full fruits of 
victory. Bliicher himself failed to perceive that 
Napoleon's left, not his centre, was the point on 
which the main effort was required. His own 
centre, with the Guards and Reserves behind it, 
was safe from any counter-attack Napoleon could 
make on it. 

The pursuit on the 2nd February was tardy 
and inefficient, and another great mistake was 
made in the separation of the armies of Silesia 
and Bohemia. As has already been pointed out, 
Bliicher, at this time, had no prospects of rein- 
forcement to a strength much exceeding 50,000 
men, a number which would not give him any 
marked superiority to the force Napoleon would 
be able to bring against him. 

Napoleon, having failed to cut off Bliicher as 
he had hoped, had now to recommence that system 
of " va et vient " marching alternately against 
each of the hostile armies, of which he was so 
great a master. For his purpose of containing 
one enemy with a portion of his force, whilst he 
fell on the other with the rest, the river system 
of Champagne was of the greatest advantage. 
The Seine and its tributaries in particular facili- 
tated defence against an enemy advancing on that 
side. The main road by which Schwarzenberg 
was advancing from the plateau of Langres had 
first to pass the Aube at Bar-sur-Aube. Then it 
met the Seine at Troyes where a defence was 
possible. The great northward bend of the river 
between Troyes and Montereau necessitated a 
second passage of the river at Nogent or Bray. 
Schwarzenberg could in this part only advance 

Concluding Remarks 205 

on the south bank ; for the roads on the north 
bank were bad, and moreover the Aube had to 
be crossed. Moreover, any attempt to pass 
round the bend would expose the allies to attack 
in left flank by Napoleon holding the passages of 
the Seine. Below Nogent Schwarzenberg could 
move by both banks, but his force on the south 
bank would encounter the lines of the Yonne and 
the Loing. Moreover, the French, destroying the 
bridges of the Seine as they passed, and leaving 
others intact behind them, might at any moment 
attack the enemy on one bank with strong forces, 
leaving only a weak one to contain him on the 
opposite bank. 

The Marne, too, was a good line for the 
defence of Paris. The main road from Germany 
to Paris crossed it at Chalons, at Chateau-Thierry, 
at La Ferte-sous-Jouarre, and yet again at 

Napoleon's movement against Blucher in the 
second and third weeks of February was, as we 
have said, his most successful manoeuvre of this 
campaign ; but we have also endeavoured to show 
that much of its success was due to fortuitous 
circumstances, and to Schwarzenberg's removal of 
the connecting link between the two armies, 
without informing Blucher. Both the prescience 
often attributed to Napoleon, and the incapacity 
alleged to have been displayed by Biiicher in dis- 
seminating his forces require to be discounted 
considerably. Napoleon had no certain know- 
ledge of the dispersion of the army of Silesia 
until he reached Sezanne. Blucher's great faults 
were, first, in not keeping in better touch with 
Seslawin's movements, and secondly, in trying 

206 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

to combine two incompatible objectives at the 
same time, namely, the rallying of Kleist and 
Kapzewitch, and the pursuit and envelopment of 
Macdonald. The first fault was one of constant 
occurrence in the allied armies and was, perhaps, 
inherent in a divided command. 

It is hardly possible to give too much credit 
to the leaders and troops of the Silesian army for 
the wonderful way in which they pulled them- 
selves together at Chalons after the very severe 
handling they had had. 

When Napoleon, having beaten but by no 
means destroyed Bllicher, returned to his contain- 
ing force on the Seine, he decided to meet the 
enemy in front, not to march against his right 
flank and rear, as he did in the latter part of 
March. His strength, combined with that of the 
containing force, was little more than half that of 
the army of Bohemia. The proportion of forces 
was generally the same throughout the campaign, 
and consequently the Emperor was never able to 
provide a reasonably large containing force, and 
at the same time to carry with himself an army 
even equal in numbers to the hostile army against 
which he moved offensively. He had to rely 
largely on the real value and the prestige of his 
personal presence at the head of troops. 

The success of his movement against Schwar- 
zenberg, in the second half of February, was, 
as he complained bitterly, marred by his want of 
the means of passing the Seine at Nogent, in 
pursuit of the enemy. Had he been able to do 
so, it might well have gone hard with Schwar- 
zenberg's advanced left wing. As it was, Napo- 
leon owed a debt of gratitude to Pajol for his 

Concluding Remarks 207 

brilliant cavalry action at Montereau, which 
secured for the Emperor the bridges over the 
Seine and Yonne at their junction. 

When Schwarzenberg got back to Troyes, he 
was in a difficult position for a leader of his cha- 
racter. The country in which he stood was poor 
at the best, and now its resources were exhausted. 
Napoleon, on the other hand, had at his back the 
richer country towards Paris. Schwarzenberg, 
therefore, must either fight a decisive battle or 
must fall back to Langres. He would dearly 
have loved to return to the eighteenth-century 
system of manoeuvring, but that was not possible 
with an adversary like Napoleon, or in an ex- 
hausted country. There cannot be a shadow of a 
doubt that, from a military point of view, Schwar- 
zenberg should have fought a great battle, in 
which, with Bliicher to help him, he could have 
opposed the Emperor with more than twofold 
forces. He appears to have made up his mind 
to fight until the news of Augereau's advance from 
the south alarmed him for his communications 
with Switzerland, and decided him in favour of 
a retreat towards the plateau of Langres, and a 
fresh separation from Bliicher. He also weak- 
ened his own army by the despatch of Bianchi 
and a large force to Dijon. 

Napoleon had hoped for a battle about 
Troyes, though, as we have seen, his chances of 
success in it were small. We have already com- 
mented on his apparent reluctance to believe that 
Bliicher was again marching on Paris, until the 
Prussian had already gained a considerable start 
of him. Still, Napoleon kept his main body at 
Troyes ready for all eventualities, either to 

208 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

support the pursuit of Schwarzenberg or to follow 
Blucher, according to circumstances. 

Marmont and Mortier (the former was chiefly- 
responsible) deserve great credit for their little 
campaign on the Lower Ourcq, during the period 
before the Emperor reached La Ferte-sous- 
Jouarre, and during his detention there, owing 
to his want of the means of throwing bridges. 
Nevertheless, Blucher succeeded in escaping 
across the Upper Ourcq, and it may be said that 
when Napoleon at last crossed the Marne on the 
3rd March, he had practically lost all chance of 
compelling Blucher to fight before he was 
joined by Winzingerode and by Biilow. Of the 
latter's whereabouts Napoleon was in complete 

It may be thought that the Emperor would 
have done better, instead of waiting for the repair 
of the bridge at La Ferte-sous-Jouarre, to have 
marched direct to Chateau-Thierry, and crossed 
there as Victor actually did. But he could feel 
no certainty that he would not find the same 
difficulty in crossing at Chateau-Thierry that he 
had already found at La Ferte-sous-Jouarre. 
Moreover, he must have felt nervous as to the 
period during which Marmont and Mortier could 
maintain themselves on the Ourcq, and prevent 
Blucher's march on Paris. Lastly, the roads to 
Chateau-Thierry were very bad, as he knew from 
experience three weeks earlier. Once Blucher 
had been reinforced by Winzingerode and Biilow, 
his strength was more than double that of Napo- 
leon, who could hardly hope for success in a 
battle against such odds. What happened at 
Craonne and Laon we know, and the Emperor 

Concluding Remarks 209 

probably owed his escape from ruin after the 
latter battle largely to Bluchers physical break- 

The march on Reims, and the defeat of St. 
Priest were very brilliant affairs in Napoleon's 
best style, and had important political results in 
restoring the Emperor's fading prestige in Paris, 
as well as the military result of again severing 
all direct communication between Blucher and 

Having just dealt with the movement on 
Arcis and against Schwarzenberg's communica- 
tions, we need not refer further to the subject. 

We have not said much of Napoleon's 
attempts to harass the allies by raising the 
country against them. But for the conduct of 
some of the allied troops themselves, especially 
the cossacks, it seems probable that the Emperor 
would have had little chance of raising the 
country people to armed resistance. They were 
tired of the years of war, which had carried off 
their sons and husbands to supply the constant 
demand for conscripts, and they would no doubt 
have watched almost with indifference the pro- 
gress of an invasion conducted with humanity. 
But the atrocities of the cossacks and others, 
though they were little, if at all, worse than those 
committed in the past by French troops in Ger- 
many, exasperated the inhabitants, and prepared 
them to respond in desperation to the Emperor's 
calls to rise and defend themselves. There were 
frequent encounters with armed peasants, and 
many stragglers of the allies, or small parties, 
were cut off, and either massacred or captured. 
Convoys were also cut off, if not strongly guarded. 


210 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

In this way the allies were undoubtedly ham- 
pered, and compelled, as Napoleon had been 
compelled in 181 3, to take special precautions. 
But it cannot be said that the general course of 
the war was seriously influenced by popular 

As for the negotiations, which commenced 
from Frankfort in November, 181 3, and con- 
tinued off and on till the middle of March, 18 14, 
it is difficult to believe that either side was in 
earnest. On the whole, it is more probable that 
the allies, with the divergent views and aims of 
their different groups, would have welcomed peace 
than that Napoleon would have accepted terms 
which, if they were to lead to permanent peace, 
would have shorn him of all his conquests, and 
put an end to his dreams of universal empire. 
Generally speaking, he was only open to reason 
when affairs were going badly with him. A 
success, such as that against Bllicher in the 
middle of February, or the subsequent victories 
over Schwarzenberg, at once raised his hopes and 
his terms, and set him definitely against peace. 
Caulaincourt, who saw more clearly that in peace 
lay the only chance of recovery, was unable to 
influence his Imperial and imperious master. In 
this campaign Napoleon's insane optimism con- 
stantly blinded him to actual facts, even more 
than was the case in 18 13. It seems almost as 
if he believed that the fall of the conqueror of 
Europe was an unthinkable contingency. 

Weather played an important part in this 
campaign. Continued alternations of frost and 
thaw rendered the roads almost unpassable, and 
the rivers unfordable everywhere. On the whole, 

Concluding Remarks 211 

probably, this was an advantage to Napoleon ; 
for the wonderful marching powers of even French 
recruits gave him an advantage over the slower 
moving allies. This advantage was increased by 
the fact that Napoleon, operating in his own 
country, was generally able, as before Champau- 
bert, to get willing help from the peasantry and 
their farm horses in dragging his guns over roads 
which it seemed almost impossible for them to 
traverse, as well as in food supplies. 

It has been said that Napoleon's great want 
in 18 1 3 and 1814 was cavalry. Yet, in the latter 
year, it may be remarked that he was often pro- 
portionately stronger in cavalry than his enemies, 
whose total numbers throughout were generally 
double his. When he marched against Blticher 
on the 9th February, one-third of his force was 
cavalry, an arm in which Bliicher at the moment 
was weak. It must be admitted that much of 
the French cavalry was of the poorest description : 
that many of the recruits had never been on a 
horse till a fortnight before their first battle, that 
they could only just hold their reins in one hand 
and a sword in the other, and that both hands 
had to be used when they wanted to turn their 
horses. Still, the Emperor had some good 
cavalry, especially the cavalry of the Guard, and 
the squadrons of Treilliard and Sparre, veterans 
of the war in Spain. What his cavalry was still 
capable of under his command was seen at 
Vauchamps. If Sebastiani's troopers yielded to 
panic at Arcis in the morning of the 20th March, 
they nobly redeemed their reputation in the 
charge of the same night. 

The artillery, too, was of very varied quality, 

212 Napoleon at Bay, 1814 

some of it atrociously bad and untrained, some of 
it, especially the famous artillery of the Guard, as 
good as ever. In this arm Napoleon's most 
powerful enemy was the Russian artillery, which, 
always good and well led, made it a point of 
honour not to lose guns. 

The French infantry ranged in quality from the 
splendid veterans of Spain and of the Old Guard 
to the poor recruits of Pacthod's National Guards, 
and some even less trained. Yet even these 
covered themselves with glory, and died fighting 
to the last, in the bloody actions near Fere 

When all was over, both Napoleon and his 
troops might well have said, with Francois I er 
after Pavia, " Tout est perdu fors l'honneur." 


AlLETTE, R. (see Lette, R.) 
Alexander I. (Tsar of Russia), 

3, 5, 8, 42, 78, 79, 161, 168, 

169, 173, 180, 187, 188, 191 
Allix (French General), 18, 40, 

53. 77, 164, 171, 196 
Amey (French General), 176, 

181, 191, 192 
Arcis-sur-Aube, battle of, 167- 

Armistice, proposals for, 90 
Army (French), 2 ; new levies, 

10 ; drafts from Spain, 1 1 ; 

strength of corps, etc., 17, n. ; 

reorganization in February, 

52 ; after Laon, 149 ; quality 

of troops, 211, 212 

(allied), total strength, 12 

Arrighi (French General), 95, 

98, 99, 100, no, in, 122, 130, 

134, 140, 141 
Athies, Hurrah d', 140-142 
Aube, R, 14 
Augereau (Marshal), 13,79, 80, 

87, 148 
Austria, 3 

Barclay de Tolly (Russian 
General commanding Guards 
and Reserves), 26, 29, 44, 46, 
77, 81, 87, 160, 162, 181, 187, 
Bar-sur-Aube, battle of, 158 
Baste (French Admiral), 23 
Bellegarde (Austrian General), 2 
Belliard (French General), 128, 

129, 134, 146, 198 
Bennigsen (Russian General), 9 
Berckheim (French General), 
164, 180 

Bernadotte (Crown Prince of 
Sweden), 4, 9, 104 

Berthier (Marshal), 19, 115, 150, 
192, 193 

Bianchi (Austrian General), 77, 
81, 83, 86, 87 

Bliicher (Prussian Field Mar- 
shal, commanding Army of 
Silesia), character and views, 
5 ; letter to Knesebeck, 6 ; 
crosses Rhine, 10 ; march to 
Brienne, 18-20 ; battle of 
Brienne, 21-24; at Trannes, 
27 ; battle of La Rothiere, 
28-39 > separation from army 
of Bohemia, 42, 44, 46, 53, 

54 ; pursues Macdonald, 54, 

55 ; position 9th February, 
56, 57 ; 10th February, 58 ; 
nth February, 61, 63 ; 12th- 
13th February, 68; battle of 
Vauchamps, 69-71 ; retreat on 
Chalons, 86, 87 ; on Aube and 
Seine, 88, 89 ; fresh separa- 
tion, 91, 94 ; advance to La 
Ferte"-sous-Jouarre, 97-99, 
102-105 ; crosses Marne and 
marches to Ourcq andAisne, 
106-111 ; crosses Aisne, 113 ; 
movements 4th and 5th 
March, 118, 119; battle of 
Craonne, 122, 123, 130, 131 ; 
retreats on Laon, 133 ; battle 
of Laon, 137-146 ; illness at 
Laon, 145 ; advance from 
Laon, 184, 185 ; orders for 
advance on Paris, 189; battle 
of Paris, 199, 200 

Bordessoulle (French General), 
*9> 93, 97-IOO, 106, no, 129, 
134, 141, 149 



Boyer, Pierre (French General), 
52, 93-95, 97, no, 121, 122, 
124, 125, 126, 128, 129, 136, 
138, 149 

Brienne, battle of, 21-24 

Broussier (French General), 
147, 196 

Bubna (Austrian General), 21, 


Bulletins, falsity of, 62 

Biilow (Prussian General), 79, 
109, 115, 119, 123, 129, 137, 
145, 148, 182, 185, 190, 199 

Burghersh, Lord, 161 

Caramon (French General), 

Caulaincourt, 8, 76, 78, 193, 

197, 198 
Champaubert, battle of, 58-60 
Charpentier (French General), 

122, 127, 129, 135, 139, 140, 

146, 149, 184, 185 
Chataux (French General), 23, 

Chateau-Thierry (action near), 

Chatillon, Congress of, 8, 26, 78, 

79, 148, 193 
Chaumont, council of war at, 

26 ; treaty of, 148 
Christiani (French General), 

138, 149 
Clausewitz, 7, 31, 43, 47, 50, 52, 

73, i", 153,200,201 
Colbert (French General), 32, 

35, 122,129,134,138,140,149, 

155, 163, 169 
Colloredo (Austrian General, 

commanding I corps), 21, 26, 

Compans (French General), 190, 

198, 199 

Corbineau (French General), 95 
Craonne, battle of, 1 21-133 
Curial (French General), in, 

122, 124, 128, 138, 140, r46, 

Czernitchew (Russian General), 

184, 188 

Davout (Marshal), 7, 9 

De Bussy, 124 

Decouz (French General), 17, 

22, 23 
Defrance (French General), 149, 

Dessaix (French General), 87 
De Segur, 91 
Diebitsch (Russian General), 77, 

81, 182, 187, 188 
Doumerc (French General), 32 
Dresden, 2 
Drouot (French General), 37 

128, 146, 175 
Dufour (French General), 18, 

Duhesme (French General), 22, 

35,84, 157 

D'Urbal, Roussel (French Gen- 
eral), 98, 122, 134, 149 

Durutte (French General), 119, 

England, 4 

Eugene Beauharnais (Viceroy 

of Italy), 2, 11, 148 
Exelmans (French General), 

122, 124, 140, 163, 169 

Fabvier (French Colonel), 141, 

Fere Champenoise, battle of, 

Flahault, 91, 197, 198 
Francis I. (Emperor of Austria), 

3, 5, 5o, 183, 19 2 
Frankfort-on-Main, negotiations 

and councils at, 6 ; terms of, 

Frederick William (King of 

Prussia), 4, 5, 168, 180, 187, 

Friant (French General), 124, 

128, 139, 140, 149, 150, 170 
Frimont (Austrian General), 




Gerard (French General), 19, 

20, 32, 82, 84, 86, 93, 171, 

176, 181, 194 
Gerard (French Commandant of 

Soissons), 148 
Glogau, 2 
Gneisenau (Prussian General), 

6, 23, 56, 57, I45-H7, 185, 

Gourgaud (French General), 

136, 138, 197 
Grolmann (Prussian General), 

Grouard, 48 
Grouchy (French General), 21, 

32, 42, 52,69-71, 1 10, 127 
Grouvel (French General), 134, 

Grummer (Austrian General). 

Guyot (French General), 33, 34 
Gyulai (Austrian General, com- 
manding III corps), 21, 26, 

33, 36, 81, 160, 162, 164, 180, 

Hamburg, 2 

Hanrion (French General), 170 

Hessen-Homburg, Prince of, 

(Allied General), 79, 87 
Houssaye, Henry, 11, 12, III, 

115, ». 

JANSSENS (French General), 

"9, 155, 175 
Joseph Bonaparte, 17, 90, 92 

Kaissarow (Russian General), 
161, 163, 170, 171, 180 

Kapzewitch (Russian General), 
54, 56, 57, 7o, 105 

Karpow (Russian General), 55, 
58, 191 

Kleist (Prussian General), 27, 54, 
56, 57,7o, 102, 105, no, 119, 
123, 127, 130, 133, 137, 144, 
148, 182, 185, 186, 190 

Knesebeck (Prussian General), 

Korff (Russian General), 105, 

Kiistrin, 2 

Laferriere (French General), 

117, 122 
Lagrange (French General), 17, 

19, 20, 27, 32 
Langeron (Russian General), 

104, 119, 123, 130, 133, 137, 

144, 145, 148, 182, 186, 189, 

Langres, 9 
Lanskoi (Russian General), 20- 

Laon, described, 118 ; battle of, 

La Rothiere, battle of, 28-39 
Lefebvre (Marshal), 197 
Lefebvre-Desnoettes (French 

General), 17, 23, 32, 156, 170, 

Lefol (French General), 175, 

Letort (French General), 138, 

140, 149, 150, 163, 164, 170, 

178, 180 
Lette (or Ailette), R., 15 
Leval (French General), 78, 176 
L'HeVitier (French General) 

Lichtenstein (Austrian General), 

90, 160 
Loing, R., 15 

Macdonald (Marshal), 13, 17, 
27, 39, 42, 54, 55, 66, 78, 82, 
87, 93, 97, 98, 100, 148, 155, 
156, 164, 171, 175, 176, 179, 
181, 190, 192, 193 

Magdeburg, 2 

Maison (French General), 11, 

Marchand (French General), 87 
Marie Louise (Empress), 17, 

Marmont (Marshal), 7, 13, 17, 

19, 20, 27, 28, 32, 34, 35, 42, 



44, 45, 56, 59, 68, 79, 93, 97, 
98,99, 101, 102, 105, 107,110, 
112- 117, 122, 125, 130, 134, 
140, 142, 144, 147, 149, 156, 
181, 184-186, 190-192, 194, 

198, 199, 200 
Marne R., 14 
Mayence, 2, 13 
Metternich, Prince, 3, 5, 50, 

Meunier (French General), 17, 
35, no, 121, 124, 125, 126, 
138, 140, 145 
Milhaud (French General), 17, 

.19, 89, 93, 175, 180 
Miloradowich (Russian Gene- 
ral), 170 
Molitor (French General), 171 
Moncey (Marshal), 199 
Montereau, battle of, 82-85 
Montmirail, battle of, 64, 65 
Morand (French General), 13 
Moreau (French Commandant 

of Soissons), in, 112 
Morin, R., 15 

Mortier (Marshal), 13, 18, 19, 
27, 40, 97, 9 8 , 101, 102, 105, 
107, no, 112, 117, 122, 129, 
134, 137, 138, 140, 146, 149, 
156, 184-186, 190-192, 198, 

199, 200 

Morvan, Poret de (French 
General), 107, »., 137, 140, 

Muffling (Prussian General), 56, 
57, 108, 147 

Murat (King of Naples), 2, 148 

Nansouty (French General), 
32,33, 64, 65, no, 124, 126, 

Napoleon : position end of 18 13, 
1,3; at Paris, 1 8 13, 10 ; Italy 
and Spain, 1 1 ; and Frankfort 
proposals, 8; his " cordon " on 
Rhine, 10, 12 ; and popular 
risings, 12 ; leaves Paris, 17 j 
plans at Chalons, 18 ; moves 
on Brienne, 21 ; battle of 

Brienne, 22, 23 ; between 
Brienne and La Rothiere, 27, 
28 ; battle of La Rothiere, 30- 
39 ; retreat on Troyes, 41- 
45 ; decides to follow 
Bliicher, 46 ; reorganizes 
army, 52 ; plan of attack on 
Bliicher, 53 ; position on 9th 
February, 57 ; action of 
Champaubert, 58-60 ; from 
Champaubert to Montmirail, 
60, 61 ; battle of Montmirail, 
62-65 ; affairs of Chateau- 
Thierry, 67 ; battle of Vau- 
champs, 69-71 ; remarks on 
his manoeuvre against 
Bliicher, 71-76; returns to 
Seine, 79 ; orders to Augereau, 
80; attacks army of Bohemia, 
82 ; battle of Montereau, 82- 
85 ; pursuit of Schwarzenberg, 
86-93 ; dispositions 24th-27th 
February, 94-99 ; follows 
Bliicher, 99-106 ; delayed at 
La Fertd-sous-Jouarre, 107, 
108; crosses Marne and 
marches north, no, m; 
views on Blucher's move- 
ments, 114-116; marches on 
Berry-au-Bac, 117, 118; 
scheme for drawing in 
eastern garrisons, 107, 119 
battle of Craonne, 124-133 
moves on Laon, 134, 135 
battle of Laon, 136-146 ; re 
treat on Soissons, 147 ; ex 
pedition against St. Pries 
149, 150; remarks on hi 
manoeuvre of Laon, 1 51-154 
his plans at Reims, 155, 156 
moves on Arcis-sur-Aub 
161 ; his projects on 18 
March, 162 ; resumes offen 
sive, 164 ; his views on 191 
March, 165, 166 ; battle 0: 
Arcis-sur-Aube, 167-175 
retreat, 175, 1176 ; march vi 
Vitry, 177, 180, 181 ; hi 
dispatches captured, 182 
marches on Bar-sur-Aub 



186 ; hesitation, 192 ; returns 
against Winzingerode at St. 
Dizier, 193 ; battle of St. 
Dizier, 194, 195 ; ascertains 
allies are marching on Paris, 
195 ; decides to follow, 196; 
journey towards Paris, 197, 
198 ; abdication, 200 ; general 
remarks on his campaign in 
France, 202-212 

Ney (Marshal), 13, 17, 22, 31, 
32, 59, 64, 95, 97-ioo, no, 
124-127, 129, 134, 136, 137, 
140, 146, 149, 161, 164, 167, 
170, 174, 181, 192, 193 

North, allied army of, 9 

Oise, R., 15 

Olsufiew (Russian General), 20- 

23, 33, 35, 36, 54, 58-60 
Osarowski (Russian General), 

Oudinot (Marshal), 36, 52, 53, 

78, 82, 87, 89, 96, 107, 156- 

158, 171, 176, 194 
Ourcq, R., 15 
Ouroussow (Russian General), 


Pac (French General), 138, 149 
Pacthod (French General), 82, 

83, 157, 164, 171, 181, 191, 

Pahlen (Russian General), 20- 

23, 82, 89, 162, 176, 182, 190- 

Pajol (French General), 53, 82- 

Paris, 2, 3, 13, 187, 199, 200 
Piquet (French General), 19, 

20, 32 
Pure" (French General), 180, 181, 

Platow (Russian General), 21, 

26, 40, 81 
Plotho, 12, ii$, n. 
Politics, influence of, 2, 49, 50, 
Poltoratzki (Russian General), 


Popular risings, 12, 209 

Positions on various dates, 
(French), on Rhine, 12, 13 ; 
on 26th January, 17, 18 ; 28th 
January, 20, Map II (a) ; 
31st January, 27, 28, Map II 
(b) ; in battle of La Rothiere, 
33, 37, Map II (d) (e); 3rd 
February, 44 ; 6th February 
46, 47, Map II (0; 9 th 
February, 56, Map II (g) ; 
10th February, 60; nth 
February, 66, Map II (h) ; 
on the Seine ioth-ijth 
February, 77, 78 ; 16th 
February, 80, Map II (j); 
24th February 93, Map II 
(1); 26th February, 98, Map 
II (m) ; 1st March, 106, 
Map III (a) ; 3rd March, 
1 10 ; 4th March, 1 14 ; 5th 
March, 118, Map III (a); 
6th March, 122, Map III 
(b) ; battle of Craonne, 128, 
Map III (d) ; 7th March, 
129, Map III (e) ; 8th March, 
135 ; 9th March, battle of 
Laon, 140, 141, Map III (f) ; 
17th March, 161, Map III 
(g) ; on the Aube, 19th 
March, 164, Map III (h) ; 
20th March, 176 ; 22nd 
March, 180 ; 24th March 190, 
Map III (j) 

(Allies), 28th January, 20, 
Map II (a) ; 31st January, 27, 
Map II (b) ; in battle of La 
Rothiere, 33, 37, Map II (d) 
(e) ; other corps, 31st Jan- 
uai T, 39 >' 6th February, 45, 
46, Map II (f) ; 8th February, 
54, 55 ; 9th February, 56, 
Map II (g) ; 10th February, 
60; nth February, 66, Map 
II (h) ; on Seine, ioth-i5th 
February, 77, 78 ; 16th Feb- 
ruary, 81, Map II (j) ; 24th 
February, 92, 94, Map II (1) ; 
26th February, 96, 97, Map II 
(m); 1st March, 106, Map III 



(a); 4th March, 114; 5th 
March, 118, Map III (a); 
6th March, 123, Map III (b) ; 
battle of Craonne, 128, Map 
III (d) ; 7th March, 130, Map 
III (e) ; 9th March, battle of 
Laon, 140, 141, Map III (f) ; 
17th March, 160, Map III 
(g); on the Aube, 19th March, 
164, Map III (h); 22nd 
March, 180 ; 24th March, 
189, 190, Map III (j) ; 29th 
March, 199 

Prussia, 4 

Radetzky (Austrian General), 

8, 160 
Rajewski (Russian General, 

commanding VI Corps after 

Wittgenstein), 160, 164, 179, 

180, 181 
Rebeval, Boyer de (French 

General), 122, 125, 126, 129, 

Reims, 117, 148-150 
Ricard (French General), 17, 

19, 20, 41, 42, 64, 102, 184 
Roads, 15, 16, 19, 120, 121 
Rottembourg (French General), 

17,. 32, 36, 53 
Russia, 3, 4 

Sacken (Russian General), 20- 
22, 32-35, 62-64, 66, 102, no, 
119, 123, 130, 133, 137, 144, 
148, 182, 186, 189, 190, 199 

St. Aignan, 8 

St. Dizier, action 27th January, 
18; battle 26th March, 194, 

St. Germain (French General), 

66, 175, 180 
St Priest (Russian General), 

105, 144, 148-150 
Savary, 187, 201 
Schsefer (Austrian General), 84 

Schwarzenberg, Prince (Allied 
Commander-in-Chief, Army 
of Bohemia), character, 5 ; 
crosses Rhine, 10 ; at Chau- 
mont, 20 ; dispositions after 
Brienne, 25-27 ; battle of La 
Rothiere, 29 ; orders for pur- 
suit, 43 ; draws to left, 45, 46 ; 
at Troyes, 47 ; letter from 
Austrian Emperor, 50 ; calls 
up Kleist, 57 ; advances from 
Troyes, 77 ; retreats again, 
80, 81, 86-93 ; letter to Blii- 
cher, 104 ; drives Macdonald 
back, 155,157,160; retreats 
on Troyes, 160, 161 ; new 
plans on 18th March; 161- 
163 ; battle of Arcis-sur-Aube, 
168-176; doubts as to Napo- 
leon's direction, 178 - 180 ; 
council of war at Pougy, 182, 
183 ; decided to move on 
Paris, 187, 188 

Schwichow (Prussian General), 

Sebastiani (French General), 
13, 17, 66, 100, 149, 163, 164, 
167, 169, 170, 174-176, 194 

Seine, R., 14 

Seslawin (Russian General), 46, 
160, 162, 164, 180 

Silesia, Army of (see Blucher) 

Soissons, 79, 109, 111-115, 117, 
134, 147, 149, 184, 185 

Souham (French General), 164 
171, 196 

Soult (Marshal), 2, n 

Spain, 11 

Sparre (French General), 127 

Spleny, Major-General (Aus- 
trian), 34 

Spleny, Lt. F. M. (Austrian), 

Suchet (Marshal), 2 ; n 

Talisin (Russian General), 

64, n. 
Tettenborn (Russian General) 



105, 155, 161, 182, 185, 187, 
188, 194 

Theatre of War, described, 14- 

16, 119-121 
The'rouanne, R., 105 
Toll (Russian General), 34, 36, 

160, 161, 187, 188 
Treilliard (French General), 

Tscherbatow (Russian General), 


Udom (Russian General), 59, 

Valjouan, action of, 82 
Vauchamps, battle of, 68-71 
Victor (Marshal), 12, 17, 19, 22, 

32, 34, 53, 77, 78, 82-84, 97, 

99, 100, 106, no, 124 
Vincent (French General), 102, 

Volkmann (Bavarian General), 

169, 170 

Wassiltchikow (Russian 

General), 55, 129, 138, 191 
Watier (French General), 95, 

Weil, Commandant, 39, 47, 49, 

115, «., 161, 178 
Weimar, Duke of, 104 
Weissenberg, Count, 197 
Wellington, Duke of, 2, 28 

Winzingerode (Russian Gene- 
ral), 10, 79, 104, 109, no, 
118, 122, 123, 130, 133, 137, 
138, 139, 145, H8, 182, 186, 
188, 189, 194, 195, 199 

Wittenberg, 2 

Wittgenstein (Russian General, 
Commanding VI Corps), 20, 
25, 28, 29, 39, 42, 77, 78, 81, 

157, 159 

Wolkonski, 160 

Woronzow (Russian General), 
123-125, 182, 189, 190 

Wrede (Bavarian General, Com- 
manding V Corps), 20, 25, 
29, 33-35, 42, 77, 78, 81,82, 
89, 91, 157, 160, 162-164, 167- 
169, 173, 176, 180, 199 

Wurtemberg, Crown Prince, 
(Commanding Allied V 
Corps), 20, 25, 26, 33-35, 77, 
81-86, 160, 162-164, 168, 170, 
173, 179, 180, 190, 192 

Wurtemberg, Eugen of, 162 

YONNE, R., 15 

Yorck (Prussian General), 18, 
20, 25, 27, 39, 42, 53-55, 62, 
63,65,67, 108, 119, 123, 129, 
130, 133, 137, 144, 146-148, 
182, 185, 186, 190 

Ziethen (Prussian General), 


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XVIIth CENTURY. By Charles Bastide. With Illustrations. 
Demy 8vo. ios. 6d. net. 

%* The author of this book of essays on the intercourse between England 
and France in the seventeenth century has gathered much curious and little- 
known information. How did thu travellers proceed from London to Paris? Did 
the Frenchmen who came over to England learn, and did they ever venture 
to write English? An almost unqualified admiration for everything French then 
prevailed : French tailors, milliners, cooks, even fortune-tellers, as well as writers 
and actresses, reigned supreme. How far did gallomania affect the relations 
between the two countries ? Among the foreigners who settled in England none 
exercised such varied influence as the Hugenots; students of Shakespeare and 
Milton can no longer ignore the Hugenot friends of the two poets, historians of 
the Commonwealth must take into account the " Nouvelies ordinaires de 
Londres."* the French gazette, issued on the Puritan side, by some enterprising 
refugee. Is it then possible to determine how deeply the refugees impressed 
English thought ? Such are the main questions to which the book affords an 
answer. With its numerous hitherto unpublished documents and illustrations, 
drawn from contemporary sources, it cannot fail to interest those to whom a most 
brilliant and romantic period in English history must necessarily appeal. 



W. H. James Weale, with the co-operation of Maurice 
Brockwell. With numerous Illustrations. Demy 8vo. 

12s. 6d. net. 

^* # The large book on "Hubert and John Van Eyck" which Mr. Weale 
published in 1908 through Mr. John Lane was instantly recognised by the 
reviewers and critics as an achievement of quite exceptional importance. It is 
now felt that the time has come for a revised and slightly abridged edition of that 
which was issued four years ago at £5 5s. net. The text has been compressed in 
some places and extended in others, while certain emendations have been made, 
and after due reflection, the plan of the book has been materially recast. This 
renders it of greater assistance to the student. 

The large amount of research work and methodical preparation of a revised 
text obliged Mr. Weale, through failing health and eyesight, to avail himself of 
the services of Mr. Brockwell, and Mr. Weale gives it as his opinion in the new 
Foreword that he doubts whether he could have found a more able collaborator 
than Mr. Brockwell to edit this volume. 

"The Van Eycks and their Art," so far from being a mere reprint at a popular 
price of '"Hubert and John Van Eyck," contains several new features, notable 
among which ;ire the inclusion of an Appendix giving details of all the sales at 
public auction in any country from 1662 to 1912 of pictures reputed to be by the 
Van Eycks. An entirely new and ample Index has been compiled, while the 
bibliography, which extends over many pages, and the various component parts 
of the book have been brought abreast of the most recent criticism. Detailed 
arguments are given for the first time of a picture attributed to one of the brothers 
Van Eyck in a private collection in Russia. 

In conclusion it must be pointed out that Mr. Weale has, with characteristic 
care, read through the proofs and passed the whole book for press 

The use of a smaller format and of thinner paper renders the present edition 
easier to handle as a book of reference. 


The Life of Thomas Coke, First Earl of Leicester and of 
Holkham. By A. M. W. Stirling. New Edition, revised, 
with some additions. With 19 Illustrations. In one volume. 
Demy 8vo. 12s. 6d. net. 


Turquan. Author of "The Love Affairs of Napoleon," 
"The Wife of General Bonaparte." Illustrated. Demy 8vo. 
12s. 6d. net. 

# * # "The Empress Josephine" continues and completes the graphically 
drawn life story begun in " The Wife of General Bonaparte " by the same author, 
takes us through the brilliant period of the Empire, shows us the gradual 
development and the execution of the Emperor's plan to divorce his middle-aged 
wife, paints in vivid colours the picture of Josephine's existence after her divorce, 
tells us how she, although now nothing but his friend, still met him occasionally 
and corresponded frequently with him, and how she passed her time in the midst 
of her minature court. This work enables us to realise the very genuine 
affection which Napoleon possessed for his first wife, an affection which lasted 
till death closed her eyes in her lonely hermitage at La Malmaison, and un'il he 
went to expiate at Saint Helena his rashness in braving all Europe. Compar- 
atively little is known of the period covering Josephine s life after her divorce, 
andyet M. Turquan has found much to tell us that is very interesting; for the 
ex-Empress in her two retreats, Navarre and La Malmaison, was visited by many 
celebrated people, and after the Emperor's downfall was so ill-judged as to 
welcome and fete several of the vanquished hero's late friends, now his declared 
enemies. The story of her last illness and death forms one of the most interesting 
chapters in this most complete work upon Ihe first Empress of the French. 


A. M. Broadley. With an Introductory Essay on Pictorial Satire 
as a Factor in Napoleonic History, by J. Holland Rose, Litt. D. 
(Cantab.). With 24 full-page Illustrations in Colour and upwards 
of 200 in Black and White from rare and unique originals. 
2 Vols. Demy 8vo. 42s. net. 

Also an Edition de Luxe. 10 guineas net. 



MANY. By F. Loraine Petre. Author of " Napoleon's 
Campaign in Poland," " Napoleon's Conquest of Prussia," etc. 
With 17 Maps and Plans. Demy 8vo. 12s. 6 d. net. 

•»• In the author's two first histories of Napoleon's campaigns (1806 and 1807) 
the Emperor is at his greatest as a soldier. The third (1809) showed the 
commencement of the decay of his genius. Now, in 1813, he has seriously declined. 
The military judgment of "Napoleon, the general, is constantly fettered by the 
pride and obstinacy of Napoleon, the Emperor. The military principles which 
guided him up to 1807 are frequently abandoned ; he aims at secondary objectives, 
or mere geographical points, instead of solely at the destruction of the enemy's 
army ; he hesitates and fails to grasp the true situation in a way that was never 
known in his earlier campaigns. Yet frequently, as at Bautsen and Dresden, his 
genius shines with all its old brilliance. 

The campaign of 1813 exhibits the breakdown of his over-centralised system 
of command, which left him without subordinates capable of exercising semi- 
independent command over portions of armies which had now grown to dimensions 
approaching those of our own day. 

The autumn campaign is a notable example of the system of interior lines, as 
opposed to that of strategical envelopment. It marks, too, the real downfall ol 
Napoleon's power, for, after the fearful destruction of 1813, the desperate struggle 
of 1814, glorious though it was, could never have any real probability of success. 


PARIS. By John Joseph Conway, M.A. With 32 Full-page 
Illustrations. With an Introduction by Mrs. John Lane. 
Demy 8vo. 12s. 6d. net. 

%* Franklin, Jefferson, Munroe, Tom Paine, La Fayette, Paul Jones, etc., 
etc., the most striking figures of a heroic age, working out in the City of Light 
the great questions for which they stood, are dealt with here. Longfellow the 
poet of the domestic affections ; matchless Margaret Fuller who wrote so well of 
women in the nineteenth century; Whistler master of American artists; Saint- 
Gaudens chief of American sculptors ; Rumford, most picturesque of scientific 
knight-errants and several others get a chapter each for their lives and 
achievements in Paris. A new and absorbing interest is opened up to visitors. 
Their trip to Versailles becomes more pleasurable when thev realise what 
Franklyn did at that brilliant court. The Place de la Bastille becomes a sacred 
place to Americans realizing that the principles of the young republic brought 
about the destruction of the vilest old dungeon in the world. The Seine becomes 
silvery to the American conjuring up that bright summer morning when Robert 
Fulton started from the Place de la Concorde in the first steam boat. The Louvre 
takes on a new attraction from the knowledge that it houses the busts of 
Washington and Franklyn and La Fayette by Houdon. The Luxembourg becomes 
a greater temple of art to him who knows that it holds Whistler's famous portrait 
of his mother. Even the weather-beaten bookstalls by the banks of the Seine 
become beauti!ul because Hawthorne and his son loitered among them on sunny 
days sixty years ago. The book has a strong literary flavour. Its history is 
enlivened with anecdote. It is profusely illustrated. 


WHISTLER : The Artist. By Thomas R. Way. Author of 
"The Lithographs of J. M. Whistler." etc. With numerous 
Illustrations. Demy 4 to. 10s. 6d. net. 

- m - inis voiume contains aoont torty illustrations, including an unpublished 
etching drawn by Whistler and bitten in by Sir Frank Short, A.R.A., an original 
lithograph sketch, seven lithographs in colour drawn by the Author upon brown 
paper, and many in black and white. The remainder" are facsimiles bv photo- 

ography. In most cases the originals are drawings and sketches by Whistler 
which have never been published before, and are closely connected with the 
matter ol the book. The text deals with the Author's memories of nearly twenty 
year's close association with Whistler, and he endeavours to treat only with the 
man as an artist, and perhaps, especially as a lithographer. 

•Also an Edition de Luxe on hand-made paper, with the etching 
printed from the original plate. Limited to 50 copies. 
•This is Out of Print with the Publisher. 



original Memoirs of Elizabeth, Baroness Craven, afterwards Mar- 
gravine of Anspach and Bayreuth and Princess Berkeley of the 
Holy Roman Empire (1750-1828). Edited, with Notes and a 
Bibliographical and Historical Introduction containing much 
unpublished matter by A. M. Broadley and Lewis Melville. 
With over 50 Illustrations. In 2 vols. Demy 8vo. 25 s. net. 

* # * Elizabeth Berkeley who was one of the roost beautiful, as well as the 
cleverest, wittiest and most versatile women of the age in which she flourished, 
while still a girl was given in marriage to the sixth Lord Craven. Between 1770 
and 1780 she was not only a persona grata at Court, but the friend of all the great 
political, literary and social personages of the period. Between 1780 and 1790 
came that period of wandering through Europe which enabled her to record 
personal experiences of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Frederick the Great, the 
Empress Catherine, the King and Queen of Naples, and other Royal and 
Illustrious personages. 

In 1791 she married the Margrave ol Anspach and Bayreuth. Returning to 
London she became at Brandenburgh House and Benham Valence, Newbury, the 
centre of a great social circle. A little later the Emperor Francis II, made her a 
Princess in her own right of the Holy Roman Empire. For a whole decade the 
theatricals and concerts at Brandenburgh House were the talk of the town. 
Some four years before her death she published her memoirs. Mr. Broadley and 
Mr. Melville have discovered many new facts, a large number of unpublished 
letters and MSS., which have enabled them to elaborate an historical introduction 
ol extraordinary and fascinating interest. The illustrations have been taken 
from existing portraits and from contemporary engravings in Mr. Broadley's 

IN PORTUGAL. By Aubrey F. G. Bell. 

Author of " The Magic of Spain." Demy 8vo. js. 6d. net. 

*** The guide-books give full details of the marvellous convents, gorgeous 
palaces, and solemn temples of Portugal, and no attempt is here made to write 
complete descriptions of them, the very name of some of them being omitted. 
But the guide-books too often treat Portugal as a continuation, almost as a province 
of Spain. It is hoped that this little book may give some idea of the individual 
character of the country, of the quaintnesses of its cities, and of peasant life in 
its remoter districts. While the utterly opposed characters of the two peoples 
must probably render the divorce between Spain and Portugal eternal, and reduce 
hopes of union to the idle dreams of politicians. Portugal in itself contains an 
infinite variety. Each of the eight provinces (more especially those of the 
alem/ejanos, minhotos and bcirdes) preserves many peculiarities of language, 
customs, and dress ; and each will, in return for hardships endured, give to the 
traveller many a day of delight and interest. 


PAPERS. By Lord Redesdale, G.C.V.O., K.C.C., et^. 
Demy 8vo. js. 6d. net. 

*»* " From the author ol 'Tales of Old Japan ' his readers always hope for 
more about Japan, and in this volume they will find it. The earlier papers, 
however, are not to be passed over." — Times. 

* # * " Lord Redesdale's present volume consists of scholarly essays on a 
variety ol subjects of historic, literary and artistic appeal." — Standard. 

*V* "The author of the classic 'Tales of Old Japan' is assured of welcome, 
and the more so when he returns to the field in which his literary reputation was 
made. Charm is never absent from his pages." — Daily Chronicle. 


Wilfred Whitten. With numerous Illustrations. 2 vols. 
Demy 8vo 25s. net. 

THE BERRY PAPERS. By Lewis Melville. 

With numerous Illustrations. Demy 8vo. 2 vols. 25s. net. 



Mrs. Warrenne Blake. Author of " Memoirs of a Vanished 
Generation, 18 13-1855." With a Photogravure Frontispiece and 
other Illustrations. Demy 8vo. 16s. net. 

* # *The Irish Beauty is the Hon. Mrs. Calvert, daughter of Viscount Pery, 
Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, and wi;e of Nicholson Calvert, M.P., of 
Hunsdon. Born in 1767, Mrs. Calvert lived to the age of ninety-two, and there 
are many people still living who remember her. in the delightiul journals, now 
for the first time published, exciting events are described. 


CENTURY. By Stewart Houston Chamberlain. A Translation 
from the German by John Lees. With an Introduction by 
Lord Redesdale. Demy 8vo. 2 vols. 25s. net. Second 

%* A man who can write such a really beautiful and solemn appreciation ol 
true Christianity, of true acceptance of Christ's teachings and personality, as 
Mr. Chamberlain has done. . . . represents an influence to be reckoned with 
and seriously to be taken into account.' — Theodore Roosevelt tn the Outlook, New 

%* •' It is a masterpiece of really scientific history. It does not make con- 
fusion, it clears it away. He is a great generalizer of thought, as distinguished 
from the crowd of mere specialists. It is certain to stir up thought. Whoever 
has not read it will be rather out of it in political and sociological discussions for 
some time to come." — George Bernard Shaw in Fabian News. 

%* "This is unquestionably one of the rare books that really matter. His 
judgments of men and things are deeply and indisputably sincere and are based 
on immense reading . . . But even many well-informed people . . . will be 
grateful to Lord Redesdale for the biographical details which he gives them in the 
valuable and illuminating introduction contributed by him to this English 
translation." — Times. 


COMMONS from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, with 
a Topographical Account of Westminster at Various Epochs, 
Brief Notes on Sittings of Parliament and a Retrospect of 
the principal Constitutional Changes during Seven Centuries. By 
Arthur Irwin Dasent, Author of "The Life and Letters of John 
Delane," "The History of St. James's Square," etc., etc. With 
numerous Portraits, including two in Photogravure and one in 
Colour. Demy 8vo. 21s. net. 


RIES. By Hugh Childers With numerous Illustrations. 
Demy 8vo. 12s. 6d. net. 

*»* This volume deals with some famous trials, occurring between the years 
1650 and 1850, All of them possess some exceptional interest, or introduce 
historical personages in a fascinating style, peculiarly likely to attract attention. 

The book is written for the general reading public, though in many respects 
it should be of value to lawyers, who will be especially interested in the trials of 
the great William Penn and Elizabeth Canning. The latter case is one of the 
most enthralling interest. 

Twenty-two years later the same kind of excitement was aroused over 
Elizabeth Chudleigh. altas Duchess of Kingston, who attracted more attention in 
1776 than the war of American independence. 

Then the history of the fluent Dr. Dodd, a curiously pathetic one, is related, 
and the inconsistencies of his character very clearly brought out: perhaps now he 
may have a little more sympathy than he has usually received. Several im- 
portant letters of his appear here for the first time in print 

Among other important trials discussed we find the libel action against 
Disraeli and the story of the Lyons Mail. Our knowledge of the latter is chiefly 
gathered from the London stage, but there is in it a far greater historical interest 
than would be suspected by those who have only seen the much altered story 
enacted before them. 



Melville. Author of " William Makepeace Thackeray." With 
two Photogravures and numerous other Illustrations. 2 vols. 
Demy 8vo. 32s. net. 


SPENCER STANHOPE. By A. M. W. Stirling. Author 
of u Coke of Norfolk," and ** Annals of a Yorkshire House." 
With a Colour Plate, 3 in Photogravure, and 27 other 
Illustrations. 2 vols. Demy 8vo. 32s. net. 

* # * Extracts might be multiplied indefinitely, but we have given enough to 
show the richness of the mine. We have nothing but praise for the editor's 
work, and can conscientiously commend this book equally to the student of 
manners and the lover of lively anecdote." — Standard. 


IN 1675. By Marie Catherine Comtesse d'Aulnoy. Trans- 
lated from the original French by Mrs. William Henry Arthur. 
Edited, Revised, and with Annotations (including an account of 
Lucy Walter) by George David Gilbert. With Illustrations. 
Demy 8vo. 1 6s. net. 

* # * When the Comte de Gramont went back to France and Mr. Pepys 
decided that to save his eyesight it was essential that he should suspend his 
Diary, the records of delectable gossip of the ever interesting Restoration Court 
became, of necessity, sadly curtailed. Indeed, of the second decade of the 
Golden Days the sedate Evelyn has hitherto been almost the only source of 
information available to the public. Though the Memoirs of the Countess 
d'Aulnoy have always been known to students, they have never received the 
respect they undoubtedly merit, for until Mr. Gilbert, whose hobby is the social 
history of this period, took the matter in hand, no-one had succeeded in either 
deciphering the identity of the leading characters of the Memoirs or in verifying 
the statements made therein. To achieve this has been for some years his labour 
of love and an unique contribution to Court and Domestic history is the crown of 
his labours. The Memoirs, which have only to be known to rank with the 
sparkling " Comte de Gramont" (which they much resemble), contain amusing 
anecdotes and vivid portraits of King Charles II., his son the Duke of Monmouth, 
Prince Rupert, Buckingham, and other ruffling "Hectors" of those romantic 
days. Among the ladies we notice the Queen, the Duchess of Norfolk and 
Richmond, and the lively and vivacious Maids of Honour. The new Nell Gwynn 
matter is of particular interest. The Memoirs are fully illustrated with portraits, 
not reproduced before, from the collection of the Duke of Portland and others. 


HOMELANDS. By James Baker, F.R.G.S. With 48 Pictures 
in Colour by Donald Maxwell. Demy 8vo. 21s. net. 

* # * The Empire of Austria with its strangely diversified population of many 
tongues is but little known to English readers. The Capital and a few famous 
interesting places, such as Carlsbad, Marienbad, the glorious Tyrol, and such 
cities as Golden Prague and Innsbruck are known to the English and Americans ; 
but the remarkable scenery of the Upper Elbe, the Ultava or Moldau and the 
Danube, the interesting peasantry in their brilliant costumes, the wild mountain 
gorges, are quite outside the ken of the ordinary traveller. The volume is 
written by one who since 1873 has continually visited various parts of the Empire 
and has already written much upon Austria and her people. Mr. Baker wu 
lately decoratedf by the Emperor Francis Joseph for his literary work and was 
also voted the Great Silver Medal by the Prague Senate. The volume is 
illustrated with 48 beautiful water-colour pictures by Mr. Donald Maxwell, the 
well-known artist of the Graphic, who has made several journeys to Austria for 
studies for this volume. 


Datidson. With 32 Illustrations from Photographs and a Map. 
Crown 8vo. Second Edition. 5s. net. 

* # * Whilst many English books have appeared on the Lande Tirol, few have 
given more than a chapter on the fascinating Dolomite Land, and it is in the hope 
of helping other travellers to explore the mountain land with less trouble and 
inconvenience than tell to her lot that the author has penned these attractive 
pages. The object of this book is not to inform the traveller how to scale the 
apparently inaccessible peaks of the Dolomites, but rather how to find the roads, 
and thread the valleys, which lead him to the recesses of this most lovely part of 
the world"s face, and Miss Davidson conveys just the knowledge which is wanted 
for this purpose ; especially will her map be appreciated by those who wish to 
make their own plans for a tour, as it shows at a glance the geography of the 

Edited by Oswald G. Knapp. With 32 Illustrations. Demy 8vo. 
1 6s. net. 

%* This work is a most important find and should arouse immense interest 
amongst the large number of persons whom the Johnson cult attracts to anything 
concerning Mi's. Piozzi. 

Mr. Knapps gives 198 letters dating from 1788 to 1821. The letters are most 
delightful reading and place Mrs. Piozzi in a somewhat different aspect than she 
has Deen viewed in hitherto. The attitude of her ThraJe daughters to her is 
shown to be quite unwarrantable, and her semi humorous acceptance of the 
calumny and persecution she suffered arouses our admiration. 

The Illustrations to this charming work have been mainly supplied from 
Mr. A. M. Broadley's unique collection. 

CHANGING RUSSIA. A Tramp along the Black 

Sea Shore and in the Urals. By Stephen Graham. Author of 
" Undiscovered Russia," " A Vagabond in the Caucasus," etc. 
With Illustrations and a Map. Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net. 

%* In " Changing Russia," Mr. Stephen Graham describes a journey from 
Rostof-on-the-Don to Batum and a summer spent on the Ural Mountains. The 
author has traversed all the region which is to be developed by the new railway 
from Novo-rossisk to Poti. It is a tramping diary with notes and reflections. 
The book deals more with the commercial lite of Russia than with that of the 
peasantry, and there are chapters on the Russia of the hour, the Russian town, 
life among the gold miners of the Urals, the bourgeois, Russian journalism, the 
intelligentsia, the election of the fourth Duma. An account is given of Russia at 
the seaside, and each of the watering places of the Black Sea shore is 
described in detail. 


HIS LIFE AND WORK. By H. W. Dickinson, A.M.I.Mech.E. 
Demy 8vo. 10s 6d. net. 

* # * No Biography dealing as a whole with the life-work of the celebrated 
Robert Fulton has appeared of late years, in spite of the fact that the introduction 
of steam navigation on a commercial scale, which was his greatest achievement 
has recently celebrated its centenary. 

The author has been instrumental in bringing to light a mass of documentary 
matter relative to Fulton, and has thus been able to present the facts about him in 
an entirely new light . The interesting but little known episode of his career as 
an artist is for the first time fully dealt wfth. His stay in France and his 
experiments under the Directory and the Empire with the submarine and with 
the steamboat are elucidated with the aid of documents preserved in the Archives 
Nationales at Paris. His subsequent withdrawal from France and his 
employment by the British Cabinet to destroy the Boulogne flotilla that Napoleon 
had prepared in 1804 to invade England are gone into fully. The latter part of his 
career in the United States, spent in the introduction of steam navigation and in 
the construction of the first steam-propelled warship, is of the greatest interest. 
With the lapse of time facts assume naturally their true perspective. 

It is believed that practically nothing of moment in Fulton's career has been 
omitted. The illustrations, which are numerous, are drawn in nearly every case 
from the original sources. It may confidently be expected, therefore, that this 
book will take its place as the authoritative biography which everyone interested 
in the subjects enumerated above will require to possess. 



Charles H. Sherrill. Author of " Stained Glass Tours in 
England," " Stained Glass Tours in France," etc. With 
33 Illustrations. Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net. 

*#* Mr. Sherrill has already achieved success with his two previous books 
on the subject of stained glass. In Italy he finds a new field, which offers con- 
siderable scope for his researches. His present work will appeal not only to 
tourists, but to the craftsmen, because of the writer's sympathy with the craft. 
Mr. Sherrill is not only an authority whose writing is clear in style and full ot 
understanding for the requirements of the reader, but one whose accuracy and 
reliability are unquestionable. This is the most important book published on the 
subject with which it deals, and readers will find it worthy to occupy the 

MEMORIES. By the Honble. Stephen Coleridge. 

With numerous Illustrations. Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net. 

* # * Mr. Stephen Coleridge has seen much of the world in two hemispheres 
and has been able to count among his intimate personal friends many of those 
whose names have made the Victorian age illustrious. 

Mr. Coleridge fortunately kept a diary for some years of his life and has 
religiously preserved the letters of his distinguished friends ; and in this book 
the public are permitted to enjoy the perusal of much vitally interesting 

With a loving and appreciative hand the author sketches the characters of 
many great men as they were known to their intimate associates. Cardinals 
Manning and Newman, G. F. Watts, James Russell Lowell, Matthew Arnold, 
Sir Henry Irving, Goldwin Smith, Lewis Morris, Sir Stafford Northcote, Whistler, 
Oscar Wilde, Ruskin, and many others famous in the nineteenth century will be 
found sympathetically dealt with in this book. 

During his visit to America as the guest of the American Bar in 1883, Lord 
Coleridge, the Chief Justice, and the author's father wrote a series of letters, 
which have been carefully preserved, recounting his impressions of the United 
States and of the leading citizens whom he met. 

Mr. Coleridge has incorporated portions ot these letters from his father in the 
volume, and they will prove deeply interesting on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Among the illustrations are many masterly portraits never before published. 

From the chapter on the author's library, which is full of priceless literary 
treasures, the reader can appreciate the appropriate surroundings amid which 
this book was compiled. 

8vo. 12s. 6d. net. 

%* The author of this book has not solely relied for his materials on a 
personal intimacy with its subject, during the most active years of Trollope's life, 
but from an equal intimacy with Trollope's contemporaries and from those who 
had seen his early life. He has derived, and here sets forth, in chronological 
order, a series of personal incidents and experiences that could not be gained 
but for the author's exceptional opportunities. These incidents have neveroefore 
appeared in print, but that are absolutely essential for a right understanding of 
the opinions — social, political, and religious — of which Trollope's writings bee* ne 
the medium, as well as of the chief personages in his stories, from t ■ 
"Macdermots of Ballycloran " (1847^ to the posthumous "Land Leaguers" (1883, 
All lifelike pictures, whether of place, individual, character or incident, are 
painted from life. The entirely fresh light now thrown on the intellectual and 
spiritual forces, chiefly felt by the novelist during his childhood, youth and early 
manhood, helped to place within his reach the originals of his long portrait 
gallery, and had their further result in the opinions, as well as the estimates 
of events and men. in which his writings abound, and which, whether they cause 
agreement or dissent, always reveal life, nature, and stimulate thought. The 
man, who had for his Harrow schoolfellows Sidney Herbert and Sir William 
Gregory, was subsequently brought into the closest relations with the first State 
officials of his time, was himself one of the most active agents in making penny 

Eostage a national and imperial success, and when he planted the first pillar- 
ox in the Channel Islands, accomplished on his own initiative a great postal 
reform. A life so active, varied and full, gave him a greater diversity of friends 
throughout the British Isles than belonged to any other nineteenth century 
worker, literary or official. Hence the unique interest of Trollope's course, and 
therefore this, its record. 



By Esme C Wingheld Stratford, Fellow King's College, Cam- 
bridge. In 2 vols. Demy 8vo. With a Frontispiece to each 
volume, (1,300 pages). 25s net. 

* # * This work compresses into about HALF A MILLION WORDS the 
substance ot EIGHT YEARS of uninterrupted iabour. 

The book has been read and enthusiastically commended by the leading 
experts in the principal subjects embraced in this encyclopaedic survey of English 

When this work was first announced under the above title, the publisher 
suggested calling it "A New History of England." Indeed it is both. Mr. 
Wingfield Stratford endeavours to show how everything of value that nations in 
general, and the English nation in particular.have at any time achieved has been 
the direct outcome of the common feeling upon which patriotism is built. He 
sees, and makes his readers see, the manifold development of England as one 
connected whole with no more breach of continuity than a living body or a perfect 
work of art. 

The author may fairly claim to have accomplished what few previous 
historians have so much as attempted. He has woven together the threads ot 
religion, politics, war, philosophy, literature, painting, architecture, law and 
commerce, into a narrative of unbroken and absorbing interest. 

The book is a world-book. Scholars will reconstruct their ideas from it, 
economics examine the gradual fruition of trade, statesmen devise fresh creative 
plans, and the general reader will feel he is no insignificant unit, but the splendid 
symbol of a splendid world. 


By Frank Gibson. With a Catalogue of the Lithographs and 
Etchings by Campbell Dodgson, M.S., Keeper of Prints and 
Drawings, British Museum. With about 100 reproductions of 
Conder's work, 12 of which are in colour. Demy 4to. 21s. net. 

* # * With the exception of one or two articles in English Art Magazines, and 
one or two in French, German, and American periodicals, no book up to the 
present has appeared fully to record the life and work of Charles Condor, by 
whose death English Art has lost one of its most original personalities. Con- 
sequently it has been felt that a book dealing with Conder's life so full ot interest, 
and his work so full ot charm and beauty, illustrated by characteristic examples 
of his Art both in colour and in black and white, would be welcome to the already 
great and increasing number of his admirers. 

The author of this book, Mr. Frank Gibson, who knew Conder in his early 
days in Australia and afterwards in England during the rest of the artist's life, 
is enabled in consequence to do full justice, not only to the delightful character 
of Conder as a friend, but is also able to appreciate his remarkable talent. 

The interest and value of this work will be greatly increased by the addition 
of a complete catalogue of Conder's lithographs and engravings, compiled by 
Mr. Campbell Dodgson, MA , Keeper of the Print-Room ot the British Museum. 


Melville. Illustrated. Demy 8vo. 16s. net. 

%* A character more interesting than Philip, Duke of Wharton, does not 
often fall to the lot of a biographer, yet, by some strange chance, though nearly 
two hundred years have passed since that wayward genius passed away, the 
present work is the first that gives a comprehensive account ol his life. A man 
of unusual parts and unusual charm, he at once delighted and disgusted his 
contemporaries. Unstable as water, he was like Dryden's Zimri, " Everything 
by starts and nothing long.*' He was poet and pamphleteer, wit, statesman, 
buffoon, and amorist. The son of one of the most stalwart supporters of the 
Hanoverian dynasty, he went abroad and joined the Pretender, who created him 
a duke. He then returned to England, renounced the Stuarts, and was by 
George I. also promoted to a dukedom —while he was vet a minor. He was the 
friend of Attenbury and the President oi the Hell-Fire Club. At one time he was 
leading Spanish troops against his countrymen, at another seeking consolation 
in a monastery. It is said that he was the original of Richardson's Lovelace. 



DAME DE THERMIDOR (A Queen of Shreds and Patches.) 
From the last days of the French Revolution, until her death as 
Princess Chimay in 1885. By L. Gastine. Translated from 
the French by J. Lewis May. With a Photogravure Frontispiece 
and 1 6 other Illustrations Demy 8vo. 1 2s. 6d. net. 

* # * There is no one in the history of the French Revolution who has been 
more eagerly canonised than Madame Tallien ; yet according to M. Gastine, there 
is no one in that history who merited canonisation so little. He has therefore set 
himself the task of dissipating the mass of legend and sentiment that has 
gathered round the memory of "La Belie Tallien" and of presenting her to our 
eyes as she really was. The result of his labour is a volume, which combines the 
scrupulous exactness of conscientious research with the richness and glamour of 
a romance. In the place of the beautiful heroic but purely imaginary figure of 
popular tradition, we behold a woman, dowered indeed with incomparable loveli- 
ness, but utterly unmoral, devoid alike of heart and soul, who readily and 
repeatedly prostituted her personal charms for the advancement of her selfish 
and ignoble aims. Though Madame Tallien is the central figure of the book, the 
reader is introduced to many other personages who played iamous or infamous 
roles in the contemporary social or political arena, and the volume, which is 
enriched by a number of interesting portraits, throws a new and valuable light on 
this stormy and perennially fascinating period of French history. 

MINIATURES: A Series of Reproductions in 

Photogravure of Ninety-Six Miniatures of Distinguished Personages, 
including Queen Alexandra, the Queen of Norway, the Princess 
Royal, and the Princess Victoria. Painted by Charles Turrell. 
(Folio.) The Edition is limited to One Hundred Copies for sale 
in England and America, and Twenty-Five Copies for Presentation, 
Review, and the Museums. Each will be Numbered and Signed 
by the Artist. 1 5 guineas net. 


By his Valet Francois. Translated from the French by Maurice 
Reynold. Demy 8vo. 1 2s. 6d. net. 


Joseph Turquan. Author of " The Love Affairs of Napoleon," 
etc. Translated from the French by Miss Violette Montagu. 
With a Photogravure Frontispiece and 16 other Illustrations. 
Demy 8vo. 1 2s. 6d. net. 

%* Although much has been written concerning the Empress Josephine, we 
know comparatively little about the veuve Beauharnais and the ciioyenne 
Bonaparte, whose inconsiderate conduct during her husband's absence caused 
him so much anguish. We are so accustomed to consider Josephine as the 
innocent victim of a cold and calculating tyrant who allowed nothing, neither 
human lives nor natural affections, to stand in the way of his all-conquering will, 
that this volume will come to us rather as a surprise. Modern historians are 
over-fond of blaming Napoleon for having divorced the companion of his early 
years ; but after having read the above work, the reader will be constrained to 
admire General Bonaparte's forbearance and will wonder how he ever came to 
allow her to play the Queen at the Tuileries. 

NAISSANCE. By Clare Howard. With 12 Illustrations. 
Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net. 

» # » A good sub-title to this book would be "The Grand Tour in the 16th and 
17th Centuries." We have a series of most interesting extracts from, and 
comments on the innumerable little volumes of directions for foreign travellers 
issued during the 16th and 17th Centuries for the guidance of English youths 
about to venture on the Continent. 


By Violette M. Montagu. Author of "The Scottish College in 
Paris," etc. With a Photogravure Frontispiece and 16 other 
Illustrations and Three Plans. Demy 8vo. 12s. 6d. net. 

%* Amoru* the many queens of France, queens by right of marriage with the 
reigning sovereign, queens of beauty or of intrigue, the name of Sophie Dawes, 
the daughter of humble fisherfoik in the Isle of Wight, better known as ''the 
notorious Mme. de Feuchere^," "The Queen of Chantilly" and '"The Montespan 
de Saint Leu" in the land which she chose as a suitable sphere in which to 
exercise her talents for money-making and tor getting on in the world, stand 
forth as a proof of what a woman's will can accomplish when that will is ac- 
companied with an uncommon share of intelligence. 


Beaman. Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net. 

*»* An entertaining book of unconventional travel — nnconventional as the 
author progressed more on the lines of a tramp than a tourist, from Aden to 
Port Said, afterwards through Cairo and Alexandria, then on to Jaffa and 
Jerusalem, then into Greece and Turkey, and finally on to Venice. He con- 
stantly travelled third class amongst crowds of filthy natives and on at least one 
occasion made a steamer voyage in the steerage, but he had experiences he could 
not have obtained in any other way, and kept a light heart and amused 
countenance through it all. 


TIMES. 1630-1676. By Hugh Stokes. With a Photogravure 
Frontispiece and 16 other Illustrations. Demy 8vo. 

%*The name of Marie Marguerite d'Aubray, Marquise de Brinvilliers, is 
famous in the annals ot crime, but the true history of her career is little known. 
A woman of birth and rank, she was also a remorseless poisoner, and her trial 
was one of the most sensational episodes of the early reign of Louis XIV. The 
author was attracted to this curious subject by Charles le Brun's realistic sketch 
of the unhappy Marquise as she appeared on her way to execution. This chef 
dotuvre of misery and agony forms the frontispiece to the volume, and strikes a 
fitting keynote to an absorbing story of human passion and wrong-doing. 


Dewar. Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net. 

* # * The author of "Jungle Folk" and "Birds of the Plains" has written 
another volume which will be welcomed by all lovers of the subject in which 
Mr. Dewar has specialised so successfully. The book is written in the pleasant 
style which lays stress on all the intimate habits and quaint characteristics of the 
birds ot India. The author dedicat-s his book to ex-President Roosevelt, who 
has always shown a keen appreciation of Mr. Dewar's research. 


the Papers of a Macaroni and his kindred. By A. M. W. Stirling, 
author of "Coke of Norfolk and his Friends." With 33 
Illustrations, including 3 in Colour and 3 in Photogravure. 
Demy 8vo. 2 vols. 32s. net. 


SAVOY, 1 523-1 574. By Winifred Stephens. With a 
Photogravure Frontispiece and 1 6 other Illustrations. Demy 8vo. 
12s. 6d. net. 



Donald Maxwell. Illustrated by the Author. F'cap 4to. 
7s. 6d. net. 

*^* This book provides a new departure from the conventional methods of 
book illustration. By an ingenious use of tints it is illustrated throughout in 
colour. All the text drawings are printed on rough surface paper, and are not, 
as in the case of so many so-called colour books, plates printed on a shiny paper. 

With regard to the text ihe reader will feel that he is an active partaker in 
Mr. Maxwell's explorations and romantic expeditions in numerous unexpected 
places all over Europe. It is a book that will make a delightful possession. 


A Biography compiled from hitherto Unknown and Unpublished 
Documents. By Albert Espitalier. Translated from the French 
by J. Lewis May. With a Photogravure Frontispiece and 16 
other Illustrations. Demy 8vo. 12s. 6d. net. 


Confidences of a Collector of Ceramics and Antiques throughout 
Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Holland, Belgium, 
Switzerland, and Turkey. From the year 1869 to 1885. Edited 
by Montague Guest, with Annotations by Egan Mew. With 
upwards of 100 Illustrations, including 8 in colour and 2 in 
Photogravure. Royal 8vo. 2 volumes. 42s. net. 


From Original Letters preserved in the House. By Albinia 
Cust. With Illustrations from Photographs. In 2 vols. 25s. net. 

%* The story is not of a Family but of a House. In the oak-panelled 
library are parchments, manuscripts, old printed books, and the letters — frail yet 
enduring souvenirs of a vanished past. Never intended for publication, they 
have an interest so poignant as to be realised only in the reading. The writers 
with their joys and sorrows seem to live again in these pages, conjuring up 
visions ol the scenes amid which they played their little part. 


Thomas Wilbv. With 32 Illustrations. Crown 8vo. 5s. net. 

* # * A capital account of a trip from Halifax to the Pacific Coast. Mr. Wilby 
brings the scene most vividly home to the reader and he blends, with con- 
siderable skill, history and narrative. The Photographs also give an excellent 
idea of the tour. 


H. G. C. Perry-Avscough and R. B. Otter-Barry. With an 
Introduction by Sir Claude McDonald, K.C.M.G., K.C.B., 
etc. With numerous Illustrations from Photographs. Demy 8vo. 
1 6s. net. 


Joseph Turquan. Translated from the French by James Lewis 
May. New Edition. With 8 Illustrations. Crown 8vo. 
3s. 6d. net. 




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Under Pat. " Ref. Index File."